Byrd Bennett resigns... New documents show Emanuel and City Hall were in the middle of it all from the beginning... SUPES outfit worked with Swanson and others in the elite to pick Brizard, then Byrd Bennett...

Long before she became a major player at the top of the ruling class's bossing of Chicago's public schools, Beth Swanson parlayed her "Masters in Public Administration" from the University of Illinois at Chicago into the job of budget director for CPS while Arne Duncan was still "Chief Executive Officer" and Richard M. Daley was mayor. Above, Swanson is seen sitting in the executive seats during the November 19, 2008 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Swanson left CPS when Duncan went to Washington to become Secretary of Education under Barack Obama, worked briefly for Penny Pritzker, and then became Rahm Emanuel's top education liaison. When that job became too hot to handle, Swanson was moved over to the head of the Joyce Foundation, which has long been one of the main corporate backers of corporate "school reform" and mayoral control of Chicago's public schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The bombshell was not a big surprise to anyone trying to follow the machinations of Rahm Emanuel's school board since the mayor's inauguration in May 2011. On May 31, 2015, Emanuel's second "Chief Executive Officer" at the nation's third largest school system, Barbara Byrd Bennett, officially submitted her resignation, leaving the Board's Vice President Jesse Ruiz to run the show in his position as "Interim CEO."

But the question lurking behind the scenes now is why the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education, including Board President David Vitale and Vice President Jesse Ruiz, haven't resigned themselves, since the scandals have all unfolded during the time they were responsible for assuring a public education for the more than 400,000 children attending Chicago's public schools. But from the point of view of this reporter, and Substance, the Emanuel Board of Education members (a total of nine, since Rodrigo Sierra and Penny Pritzker have left the Board of other pursuits since 2011) the Chicago school board has been a massive juggernaut of privatization and anti-public education. And the May 31 Byrd Bennett resignation answers few questions, while the actions taken by a vote of the Board members at their most recent meeting on May 27 tells another chapter in the story of one of the most corrupt public bodies in the history of Chicago. And that's saying something.

And so, as the stories unfold and take away the front page from the scandals involving Dennis Hastert, one way of looking at the current situation in Chicago's public schools is "One down and fifty to go..."

I'm serious about that.

Barbara Byrd Bennett was the tip of a corrupt iceberg, to use a dead metaphor in violation of one of George Orwell's main rules of political writing. (See "Politics and the English Language" for a guide to covering Chicago's public schools).

And most of those whose power pushed forward the kinds of corruption now being documented on the front pages following the Byrd Bennett resignation are still in power:

Sherry Ulery (above right) was still sitting among the dozen top officials of CPS at the May 27, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Ulery, who was brought to Chicago by Barbara Byrd Bennett, is from Ohio, as are many of those now described by Chicago's corporate news reporters as "cronies" of Barbara Byrd Bennett. But while the papers are reporting the resignation of Byrd Bennett as of June 1, 2015, Ulery and most of the others are still being paid six figure salaries by a school system that claims it is facing a "billion dollar deficit." Substance photo from the May 27, 2015 Board meeting by George N. Schmidt. -- As late as the May 27, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Sherry Ulery, one of the many "Chiefs of Staff" wandering the halls of Chicago's public schools (and bringing down salaries well into six figures) was still sitting with the school system's top executives. Ulery, now described by the Sun-Times as a "crony" of Barbara Byrd Bennett, begins the month of June 2015 still drawing her annual salary of $155,000 per year.

-- As late as May 27, 2015, Jesse Ruiz, David Vitale, and the other members of the Chicago Board of Education -- all of whom voted in favor of the SUPES contract but more importantly rubber stamped hundreds of equally corrupt deals (most furthering privatization) are still in power.

-- And as of June 1, 2015, the large number of executives at CPS, from "Network Chiefs" to various "chiefs" are still in power, too.

But for this morning, June 1, 2015, here are the latest revelations on the scandals of Chicago's public schools. It was more than 80 years ago that the Chicago Board of Education almost lost its accreditation because of the corruption at the top. This included textbook contracts with guys who worked with Al Capone and rules that forced CPS engineers to pay for all the water that soaked the coal delivered to the schools in those days.

But the Board of Education of 2015, under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is more corrupt than the Board of Education of 1935, under the Kelly-Nash-Capone machines.

So here are the updates from this morning's news:

Chicago Sun-Times:

Chicago Tribune:

Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigation, By Juan Perez Jr., front page, June 1, 2015

Former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett has resigned | (Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)

Embattled Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has resigned in the wake of the federal probe of a $20.5 million no-bid contract CPS handed her former employer, the mayors office announced Sunday night.

Byrd-Bennett went on paid leave in mid-April, days after federal investigators sent subpoenas to CPS seeking records about her, top aides she brought to Chicago and three companies owned by her former employers, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas.

Appointed to the citys top schools job by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the wake of a historic 2012 teachers strike, Byrd-Bennett was once employed by two of Solomon and Vranas firms, SUPES and Synesi. Had she not resigned, her contract with CPS would have allowed her to remain CPSs $250,000-a-year CEO through June 30, 2016.

But in a brief letter to school board president David Vitale dated Friday, she ended her term, effective Monday. Byrd-Bennett wrote that she will always be thankful for the opportunity to serve the children of Chicago.

Neither Byrd-Bennett nor her attorney could be reached late Sunday for comment. Neither CPS nor the mayors office would say why they held the news until late Sunday.

District spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Byrd-Bennetts paid time off was due to run out on June 5. She will be paid through Friday, he said.

Vitale released a statement Sunday on behalf of the Board of Education saying that interim CEO Jesse Ruiz will continue in that role to advance the important work of the Chicago Public Schools on behalf of our students, families, and communities across the City of Chicago.

And Emanuel sent a statement saying he is saddened by the circumstances that have led to Barbaras resignation and I wish her well.

As a city, our focus must remain on finishing the school year strong and tackling the billion dollar budget deficit that threatens the progress our students, teachers, principals and parents have made over the last several years, he wrote.

His office would not say whether the mayor had anything to do with Byrd-Bennett stepping down.

Federal subpoenas asked for records from the district for Tracy Martin, Rosemary Herpel and Sherry Ulery, all longtime Byrd-Bennett cronies who moved to Chicago to work for CPS after Byrd Bennett took the helm.

All the other three women remain employed in their six-figure jobs at CPS, according to McCaffrey. CPS is footing the bill for their attorneys, though they have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Byrd-Bennetts resignation comes two years after she in June 2013 recommended that the Board of Education approve a $20.5 million no-bid principal training contract to SUPES Academy. Controversially, that recommendation came just two weeks after she permanently shuttered 50 neighborhood schools.

She apparently made a case for the Wilmette-based business that once employed her as a coach in Chicago, saying they offered a unique service, assigning superintendents from districts across the country as mentors for principals. But Chicago principals complained that the training wasnt pertinent, nor were the mentors experts in running schools in a large urban district.

Vitale and interim CEO Ruiz were among the six members of Emanuels handpicked school board to approve the contract, through both have since tried to distance themselves from it. The SUPES deal was cancelled in April, though CPS has already paid more than $12 million of it so far.

Solomon was once a dean at Niles West High School, but left under a cloud after administrators alleged that hed sent sexually inappropriate emails to students and also used racial slurs to describe an African-American administrator.

Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for SUPES Academy, has continued to defend the quality of the companys training.




June 1, 2015 at 8:33 AM

By: Susan Ohanian


All will be fine. Arne has offered to help Rahm in making his 4th schools CEO appointment.

June 1, 2015 at 3:26 PM

By: bob Busch

Super Sup.

"Look into the sky its a bird,its a plane,

no its Super Sup.Paul riding his chainsaw."

What a nightmare that would be kiddies.

Ps George get well soon.

June 1, 2015 at 9:06 PM

By: John Kugler

Get well George!!!

Speedy Recovery

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