Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Feds Discovered Convicted Chicago Schools' CEO Also Fraudulently Steered $40 Million Contract In Detroit

The former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools pleaded guilty earlier this year to steering a more than $20 million, no-bid contract to her former employer, SUPES Academy, in exchange for bribes. The Chicago Sun-Times now says federal investigators also uncovered a $40 million contract Barbara Byrd-Bennett steered to another former employer, one of the nation's largest school book publishers, while she worked for the Detroit public schools.

According to the Sun-Times, Byrd-Bennett had a six-figure job with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt before she assumed a high-ranking job with the Detroit schools. An FBI affidavit obtained by the Sun-Times claims Byrd-Bennett worked with two other top aides and Houghton Mifflin John Winkler in a fraudulent scheme to divert $40 million in federal stimulus dollars in a deal with the book publisher. The federal investigators detected "unusual financial transactions," including more than $26,000 deposited into a money market account of Byrd-Bennett made by Houghton Mifflin. After Byrd-Bennett left her job at the Detroit schools, Houghton Mifflin allegedly gave her a $182,000 a year job working just 21 hours a week.

Federal investigators claimed Byrd-Bennett lied to Detroit officials when she claimed not to have a conflict of interest in negotiating the contract with her former employer. Byrd-Bennett chose her former employer as the recipient of the contract after conducting an RFP process. The two aides who helped her with the contract in Detroit followed Byrd-Bennett to her new job in Chicago, forming her inner circle. Both of those officials, Tracy Martin and Sherry Ulery, resigned their jobs in June. E-mails between Byrd-Bennett and SUPES' co-owner, Thomas Vranas, discussed a potential purchase of the company by Houghton Mifflin. Vranas told Byrd-Bennett she would receive 5% of the purchase price if Houghton Mifflin acquired the company.

Now that the education profiteers have seized total control of the Indianapolis Public Schools in the same corrupt manner they seized control of the Chicago Public School system, Advance Indiana wonders when our local federal prosecutors will start investigating why those profiteers wanted control of our state's largest school system. Virtually every members of the IPS board now has a conflict of interest because of their roles as lobbyists, consultants or employees of companies seeking to profiteer off public school systems.


Anonymous said...

Another bunch of thieves that need to be swinging from lamp posts.

Flogger said...

Well as we know here in Indiana we have Hoosier Values as our media and politicians always point out. Corruption and Crony - Capitalism stops at the border. Perhaps corruption and Crony-Capitalism does exist in Indiana. However, our Executive, Judicial, Legislative branches have set up a safe haven for the parasites. The intellectually vacant McMega-Media here Indianapolis deliberately ignore the parasites.

Anonymous said...

I believe they are quietly preparing to dismantle the system and make the schools all charter schools.
They are calling it "autonomy and innovation". Check out the info on the IPS website.