SUBSCRIPT: New 'Network Chief' was parked as an 'Area Officer' since summer while Barbara Byrd Bennett worked latest Ohio crony into a top administrative job

Ohio Governor John Kasich should be sending regular "Thank You" letters to Chicago School CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett and her boss, Rahm Emanuel. Byrd Bennett may be decimating Chicago's real public schools and firing veteran teachers and administrators, but at the same time she is creating jobs -- for administrators from Ohio!

Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett (above, at the April 24, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education) has found it impossible to locate talented administrators in Chicago or Illinois, so since she became the school system's chieftain in October 2012 she has located them in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and elsewhere -- without ever being held accountable for her cronyism or adherence to the Broad Foundation's lists of people. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Take Rhonda Saegert, who has barely been in town long enough to find her way out of the Loop, but who is now the "Chief of Schools" (if that's what they are still calling the Network chieftains) for "Network 10."

A year ago, Rhonda Saegert was a media-hounding principal in Cleveland. Suddenly last summer, she was working for Alicia Winckler in Chicago's "Office of Human Capital" (that's what the budget calls it; in the crazy game called "Naming" Chicago now calls that office "Talent"...) with a salary of $151,000 a year and the title "AIO." Trouble was, Chicago hasn't had "AIO" since four CEOs ago. The last time the job title "AIO" was utilized was back in the day when Arne Duncan was still salvationing Chicago's public schools by Renaissance2010ing the schools on behalf of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club and Mayor Richard M. Daley.

But Rhonda Saegert has finally landed fully in Chicago, thanks to the "Talent Office" run by Barbara Byrd Bennett that says that the best place to find Chicago administrators is in Ohio or Michigan or Tennessee -- BUT NEVER IN ILLINOIS. She is now "Chief Officer" (we're not yet certain what the latest titles will be; most recently Chicago called them "Chiefs of Schools") for "Network 10." According to CPS sources, "Network 10" includes "Beverly, Midway, Chicago Lawn and Ashburn. As of Substance press time this first day of November 2013, CPS had not provided the public (or parents or students) with an actual listing of the schools in each "Network." Nor has Barbara Byrd Bennett explained why a sub-district configuration putting Pre Kindergarten through 12th Grade in the same mix is possible, since it has failed twice before during the past quarter century in Chicago.

The reason? Administrators -- even those who have actually taught and been principals in Chicago -- do not usually understand both high schools and elementary schools, and the differences do matter.


August 30, 2014 at 5:28 PM

By: Alicia Negrete

At awe

No wonder I could never make the cut!! Of course old wounds are reappearing and the corruption continues! It's not enough that Blake got away the first time but it shows how godly the man is running the show from ohio! Wow political corruption!! I can't believe this bring our old mayor back I think it's getting worst now especially coming from Ohio!! That's where the real corruption is!

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

2 + 2 =