The latest CPS scandal. Sex, lies and Paul Vallas.

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The news began breaking this Wednesday afternoon.

A week after Mayor Rahm’s election.

There is a federal investigation of CPS centered around CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s involvement in a $20 million no-bid contract.

The Chicago Sun-Times:

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago have been investigating the contract for more than a year, the source said. A grand jury has taken up the probe, the Sun-Times has learned.

Meanwhile, two City Hall sources told the Sun-Times that Byrd-Bennett’s $250,000-a-year contract, set to expire in June, has not yet been renewed nor will it be unless the investigation is cleared up. Hired in the wake of the 2012 teachers’ strike, Byrd-Bennett remained on the job Wednesday, a district spokesman said.

The awarding of the $20 million contract has repeatedly drawn sharp criticism given the perilous finances of the school system, and principals have griped about the quality of the training they received.

Why did it take so long for the feds to look into this? And why the suspicious timing, coming after the election?

Those are $20 million no-bid questions.

As far back as July of 2013 Catalyst’s Sara Karp had done an exhaustive investigation of the no-bid SUPES deal.

Yet the media barely paid attention. And this would be a year before the feds say they started investigating.

Go back and read Sarah Karp’s reporting now and you will find it hard to believe this took this long.

There are lies:

Up until April 2012, Byrd-Bennett worked as a consultant to the Supes Academy. At that time, she was brought on at CPS as the chief education advisor to then-CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, a contract position for which she was paid $21,500 a month.

In addition, Byrd-Bennett is listed as a senior associate for a superintendent search firm called PROACT Search, in documents dated August 2012—four months after taking the position with CPS. PROACT is run by the same individuals who lead Supes: Gary Solomon, the executive director, and Thomas Vranas, the president. (Update: Another Supes founder listed on its website, Tim Quinn. Quinn worked for the Broad Superintendent Center, but Broad officials say they have no connection to the Supes Academy.)

Byrd-Bennett is one of four contacts listed in the proposal for services submitted by PROACT in its bid to do a superintendent search for the Norwalk, Connecticut school district. She has an e-mail address listed in the proposal. When PROACT won the contract, an official for the company was quoted in the local newspaper touting that Byrd-Bennett, who by that time had been named as Chicago’s CEO, was a contractor with the firm.

One board member for Norwalk schools objected to the contract, saying the district’s special education department needed the money instead.

However, Byrd-Bennett denies that she ever worked for PROACT and was surprised that her name was used, according to CPS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn. Quinn says the e-mail address was “generic.”

Board President David Vitale said he was aware that Byrd-Bennett worked for Supes prior to taking a job with CPS.

PROACT Search had been awarded several small contracts with CPS prior to Byrd-Bennett’s arrival.

There is Paul Vallas and a guy named Gary Solomon.

Solomon went on to be a sales associate and then a vice president for the Princeton Review, a test preparation company, and counted CPS as one of his clients.

In 2005, he ventured out on his own and created two companies, one focusing on consulting and the other on web development. In Philadelphia, he marketed the consulting company as using the “Paul Vallas method of school reform.”

Solomon’s marketing efforts stoked controversy in the Philadelphia school community. Vallas at the time was CEO of Philadelphia schools, but had no training or background in education other than his time leading Chicago schools—a job he took at former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s behest after being the city’s budget director.

Solomon later said he used Vallas’ name without permission and it was a “mistake.”

And there is even sex.

Solomon does have a background in education. But in 2001, according to a Chicago Tribune news report, Solomon, then a dean of students in Niles, accepted a settlement with Niles Township High School District 219 after being accused of sending sexually explicit e-mails to students. He was never charged criminally and denied the allegations.

What it doesn’t have at the moment is any comment from Mayor Rahm.

10 thoughts on “The latest CPS scandal. Sex, lies and Paul Vallas.

  1. Interesting that this comes out AFTER the election. Rahm was forever quoting or referring to BBB most likely because she is Black and fronting the school closings for him. They all just use each other in every possible way to make money or get elected. Disgusting!

  2. Is anyone really surprised at this? Another sweetheart insider deal that benefits friends of those in power running things and making decisions. Yet sadly, it’s the classroom teachers who get and will continue to get blamed for all the wrongs in education.

    Truthfully, it sickens me. It really does…mostly because those in power continually put themselves out-front as the absolutist guardians of being the righteous protectors of “doing things in the best interest of the students,” with little regard for the voices of the professional educators on the front lines in the classroom.

    What’s even more interesting is seeing Mayor Emanuel and Board President David Vitale saying they know very little about this situation. Strange that the mayor, his handpicked president and school board are essentially blind to the goings-on at Chicago Public Schools. Shouldn’t they know what their employees are doing? Didn’t the board vote to approve this contract? Emanuel wanted control and an appointed school board (rather than an elected one).

    Just like both men constantly preach to classroom teachers and building administrators, there needs to be accountability here. You both wanted it. Now you own it. Speak up…I can’t hear you.

  3. As much as the parents, teachers, activist and community can’t stand BBB and for as long and as often as this story has been repeated to the school board no one wanted to hear it.
    BBB has served her purpose for the Mayor’s plan he is throwing her under the bus pretending not to know about the underhanded corruption that is going on under his watch. BBB isn’t the only one who should be investigated, this contract and others had to be approved by the appointed school board, There are lawyers, bankers, etc that sit on the school board. They signed off on this pay for play is alive and well in Chicago under Rahm’s administration same old games we all know why this didn’t come out before the election. Federal Government helping to cover the mayor’s mess from Washington to Chicago, don’t you think the President’s boy would have made the president look bad. Well Mr. President there’s no hiding this our kids and our schools are suffering as the rich keep getting richer on the back of black and brown children.

  4. As long as we’re opening Pandora’s box on this ongoing, disgusting CPS situation, let’s open the floodgates and really blow this thing wide open, shall we…?

    How many are aware there are Chicago charter schools that get to “cherry pick” the students they want to take high stakes tests thus assuring they pull higher test scores and higher school rankings than CPS non-charter schools? All under the auspices that they can’t afford to test all their students while at the same time receiving higher per student dollars than traditional CPS schools, not having to accept special ed or behaviorally challenged students, and charging fees to parents when their students misbehave? This is NOT public education!

    It is illegal for corporations to dictate the practice of medicine in the United States…why do we allow corporations to dictate the practice of education?

    I wonder if it will take the media another two years (re: 2013 Catalyst report) after this new CPS scandal fades by the wayside before picking up on all these other scandalous practices that are going on as we speak…

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