Authorities are investigating Detroit Public Schools contracts awarded by a former official who has pleaded guilty to her role in a kickback scheme while she was CEO of Chicago’s school system, DPS said Thursday.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett was chief academic and accountability auditor for Detroit schools before going to work in Chicago. She pleaded guilty this week to helping steer $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in kickbacks and bribes while at Chicago Public Schools.
During Byrd-Bennett’s tenure in Detroit the district awarded contracts worth about $3.4 million to Synesi Associates, one of the companies named in the Chicago indictment along with its co-owners, according to the Chicago Sun-Times ( http://bit.ly/1LmDg2v ).
The district also gave another contract to another company owned by Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, PROACT Search, to fill positions once Byrd-Bennett left her $18,000-per-month post.
For a public sector union teacher, ending up with an eighteen grand a month district gig where you can get $2.3 million in kickbacks isn’t corruption, it’s a career goal. Heck, this probably wasn’t even a crime in Chicago until a few years ago.
Byrd-Bennett’s career path has involved stops in the public school systems of New York City and Cleveland, in addition to the Chicago and Detroit jobs being scrutinized. It will be very surprising if her Chicago tenure is found to be the only tainted position she’s held. If memory serves, Detroit was quite the hive of financial “irresponsibility” for several decades.
But it’s all about the children, right teachers?