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Union statement on today’s Byrd-Bennett sentencing

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement after the sentencing of former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to four-and-a-half years in federal prison for her role in defrauding the school district by soliciting and agreeing to accept bribes and kickbacks through her involvement with SUPES Academy, a third-party contractor to which she steered a $20 million no-bid contract as the head of CPS:

“Today’s sentencing of former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett joins the shuttering of 50 schools in predominantly Black and Latino communities, the cover-up in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, the closure of city-run mental health clinics, and an ongoing email scandal on a list of embarrassments and transgressions Chicagoans have endured under the Rahm Emanuel administration.

“Byrd-Bennett’s tenure as the head of CPS, in addition to her and Emanuel’s destruction of dozens of school communities in 2013, cost the district $20 million in cronyism and privatization, which continues to this day. Six-figure salaries and administrative costs have doubled under current CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, while spending on instruction has plummeted.

“As Claypool spends millions on sick day audits of hardworking teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals, and violates CPS Office of Inspector General orders regarding district residency requirements, he is complicit in the same corrupt practices the district claims to be addressing in the wake of Byrd-Bennett’s prosecution. This hypocrisy and example of one set of rules for leadership, and another set for the rest of us, is why our union, parents and public education activists continue to lobby for an elected, representative school board.”

Chicago Teachers Union