CPS Suspends SUPES Contract Amid Federal Probe | NBC Chicago
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CPS Suspends SUPES Contract Amid Federal Probe

SUPES spokesman Dennis Culloton said the firm was "disappointed" to learn of the suspension

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With its CEO the target of a federal investigation, the Chicago School Board on Wednesday took major action involving a questionable $20 million deal. That, as many have stopped defending CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. NBC Chicago's Phil Rogers reports. (Published Wednesday, April 22, 2015)

    The Chicago Board of Education has suspended its agreement with the principal-and-administrator training company at the center of a federal investigation.

    A letter sent Wednesday to SUPES Academy notified the firm of the suspension, providing the required thirty days' notice. It noted that all activity, including coaching sessions, must cease.

    The move comes as federal authorities look into a $20 million no-bid contract to SUPES, which once employed Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

    SUPES spokesman Dennis Culloton said the firm was "disappointed" to learn of the suspension.

    Documents Reveal Byrd-Bennett Ties to Other Contractors

    [CHI] Documents Reveal Byrd-Bennett Ties to Other Contractors
    In Detroit, where Barbara Byrd-Bennett served as "academic auditor," officials commissioned an official audit to determine how federal funds were used on a trio of high-dollar contracts. NBC Chicago's Phil Rogers reports. (Published Monday, April 20, 2015)

    "We stand behind the training we provide, bolstered by the positive feedback we have received from these same principals," Culloton said. "We are committed to continuing our great work with CPS once this review is completed." 

    Earlier this week Jesse Ruiz, the school district's interim CEO, revealed plans to terminate the multi-million-dollar, no-bid contract “if any wrongdoing is found” by federal investigators.

    The announcement came in an internal memo to CPS staff where Ruiz discussed plans for his first day in office, following Byrd-Bennett’s leave of absence.

    The memo, dated Saturday and distributed Monday, showed Ruiz's plans to hire an outside firm to do an independent review of the organization’s contracting process.

    CPS CEO Takes Leave of Absence Amid Probe

    [CHI] CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett Taking Leave of Absence Amid Contract Probe
    Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is taking a leave of absence amid a federal investigation into a no-bid contract awarded to one of her former employers. (Published Friday, April 17, 2015)

    “[The firm’s] task will be to evaluate the process by which the SUPES contract was approved, and whether reforms to the overall contracting process need to be made,” the letter read. “Every dollar is critically needed in our classrooms and we need to ensure not a single penny is wasted.”

    Ruiz said he also plans to halt all sole-source contracts pending the findings of the independent audit.

    “It is critical that the District maintain the public trust and I do not think we can initiate these contracts until we have independent verification that they adhere to the highest ethical standards,” the memo read.

    CPS revealed Friday that subpoenas directed at three CPS officials had been issued in reference to the federal investigation.

    Principal: Questions About No-Bid Contract Not New

    [CHI] Principal: Questions About No-Bid Contract Not New
    Troy LaRaviere, of Blaine Elementary on Chicago’s North Side, says the training Supes Academy provided was inadequate and says the media is just catching up to a scandal that's been a hot topic among principals for at least two years. NBC Chicago's Phil Rogers reports. (Published Thursday, April 16, 2015)

    Byrd-Bennett is a former employee of SUPES Academy, and investigators are looking into whether she received any kickbacks from a 2013, $20.5 million contract between CPS and the Wilmette-based firm.

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