School districts continue to be suckered by Chicago executives -- Parma Ohio has hired Rhonda Corr Saegert to be its new 'interim' superintendent...

Hired by the Chicago Board of Education in the summer of 2013, Rhonda Corr-Saegert rose quickly, becoming a "Chief of Schools" (a "Network Chief") within six months, courtesy to Barbara Byrd Bennett. Saegert is seen above during a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. She was forced out of Chicago following the federal investigation into the corruption of Barbara Byrd Bennett and her "team" in 2015. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Proving again, if it needed any further proof, that there is a sucker born every minute, the Parma Ohio Board of Education has reportedly voted to hire Rhonda Corr Saegert, one of the Ohio cronies of Barbara Byrd Bennett, as its new interim superintendent. Apparently, Corr-Saegert has gotten the job and begins on August 3, based partly on the fact that she was a very highly paid administrator in Chicago's public schools during the less than two years she worked in Chicago, courtesy of her relationship with Barbara Byrd Bennett. Corr-Saegert never taught in Chicago.

From what Substance can tell from press reports, the rush to hire Corr Saegert in the suburban Cleveland district is once again an example of how school districts across the USA hire Chicago's administrators -- especially those who never actually taught in Chicago -- to top jobs in other cities. Corr-Saegert, if her hiring is finalized, will join Pedro Martinez, Robert Runcie, Rick Mills, Jennifer Cheatham, Steve Zryk who worked briefly as Chicago administrators -- and others -- in top jobs in American school districts. What most of these people have in common is that they never taught in Chicago's public schools, and most never bothered to get certified as school administrators in Illinois. Their jobs were the product of the unique system of mayoral control, deregulation and clout that has grown to toxic proportions in Chicago since mayor control began in 1995 with the passage of the Amendatory Act.

For the press to report that Corr Saegert was "laid off" is strange. It has been widely reported, including here at Substance, that Corr-Saegert was hired by CPS based solely on Byrd Bennett's clout, and that Corr Saegert was dumped by CPS along with several other of Byrd Bennett's cronies during the investigation into the corruption by Byrd Bennet in the $20.5 million no-bid "SUPES" contract.

Far from a "layoff," the group around Byrd Bennett was forced out.

Apparently, the reason school districts get so many Chicago refugees without careful scrutiny is the same reason CPS got the infamous "SUPES" contract. Instead of doing their own searches for executives, schools districts are relying on a small number of in-bred executive search groups to find their next generation of school leaders. And most of those groups are relying on talent vetted by the Broad Foundation, which is how Chicago got Barbara Byrd Bennett in the first place. (She had also received fulsome praise from the short-lived "Cleveland Catalyst" magazine, an entity affiliated with Chicago's Catalyst magazine). The search firms then only find people who claim Chicago experience, and no one asks further questions -- until it's too late.

At a number of cities, Chicago executives were hired, only later would the school district discover that the Chicago people did not have the local state certification to serve in those capacities. When Clark County Nevada hired Pedro Martinez, they didn't even ask him whether he had ever taught in Chicago, and how he had gotten his "administrative" experience. Minneapolis hired Rick Mills, only to learn later that he had no Illinois administrative certification and was not qualified to be the superintendent of Minneapolis. The district created a special position for Mills, one which didn't require Minnesota certification. Mills was later able to move on to Sarasota Florida, where he became controversial within a year after receiving the job.

Most famous was the man who had originally brought Mills to Chicago -- Paul G. Vallas. Vallas was driven out of Connecticut after Bridgeport citizens discovered that Vallas did not have the necessary Connecticut certification to take over as the superintendent of the Bridgeport district. Amid the usual fulminations and media circus that often accompanies Vallas, Vallas left Connecticut and returned to Chicago. He was soon named by former Governor Pat Quinn to be Quinn's running mate in the November 2014 gubernatorial elections. The Vallas choice by Quinn became the last straw, and cost Quinn the governorship. Vallas is now going around Chicago as an expert, scheduled to be part of a group of speakers at the City Club on whether CPS should declared bankruptcy.

And so the Parma situation is not unprecedented. But it will require more investigation before school districts across the USA stop hiring Chicago's refugees. Below is the current report in the Ohio press regarding the Corr-Saegert appointment.


Interim Parma superintendent Rhonda Corr-Saegert recommended by former Cleveland school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. By Maura Zurick, Northeast Ohio Media Group. July 30, 2015 at 4:12 PM, updated July 30, 2015 at 4:26 PM

PARMA, Ohio Interim Parma Superintendent Rhonda Corr-Saegert starts Monday [August 3, 2015], but school board members have yet to finalize her contract and salary.

The board voted unanimously Monday to hire Corr-Saegert, a former Cleveland principal and Chicago school administrator, but did not release her resume and application until Thursday. The board plans a final vote Aug. 10.

The board had 13 other applicants to lead the district of more than 11,000 students. The job is open because Superintendent Jeff Graham is taking over the Lorain schools.

Corr-Saegert was laid off her job as the chief of 36 Chicago schools in June, the day after Chicago school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigned. Byrd-Bennett, who headed Cleveland schools from 1998 to 2006, resigned June 1 amid a federal probe into a controversial, no-bid $20.5 million contract with the SUPES Academy, where she once worked.

"I believe Rhonda has both the passion and the skill set needed to serve a diverse school district," Byrd-Bennett wrote in a July 1 letter to the Parma board. "She has a strong track record of success and is a proven organizational and educational leader."

Scroll down to see the recommendation letter and Corr-Saegert's full application. Corr-Saegert, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Cleveland State University and has finished the coursework for a doctorate from the University of Akron, started as a Cleveland teacher in 1988.

She served as principal of Cleveland's John Marshall High School from 2004 through 2013, when she left for Chicago.

In Chicago, Corr-Saegert made $151,000 as the chief of a network of schools, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. She was one of a handful of employees laid off after Byrd-Bennett resigned.


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