Ward Room
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Quinn Halts State Funding for UNO Charter

State contends grant money was awarded through insider deals, rather than to the lowest bidder

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State contends the United Neighborhood Organization violated the terms of a $98 million grant in choosing companies for Chicago construction projects. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

Gov. Pat Quinn has informed the state’s largest charter school organization, the United Neighborhood Organization, that state checks will stop flowing.

UNO was awarded $98 million back in 2009 to build eight new schools. The Chicago Sun-Times, however, has revealed there are questions about whether contracts have gone to insiders rather than the lowest bidder

That leaves the construction at the UNO Soccer Academy, at 5050 S. Homan Ave., may be in jeopardy.

"We had rules, specific rules regarding the construction activities, there could be no conflicts of interest; right now there are questions if there are conflicts of interest," said Quinn. "I ordered that the grants, the monies, be temporarily suspended until all questions are answered."

The new UNO Soccer Academy’s windows are the work of Reflection Window, a company with ties to an UNO executive who stepped down after questions surfaced in February. Now UNO has hired an independent review, bringing in retired U.S. District Judge Wayne Anderson to review their contract policies.

UNO CEO Juan Rangel, a strong supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spoke to NBC Chicago by telephone:

"I look forward to being able to submit that full report when It is completed," he said. "This in no way impacts any of the other UNO schools across the city. We’re talking about the construction of the school that may be on hold."

When City Hall was asked if the mayor had any reaction, his press secretary, Tarrah Cooper, said "no comment."

Related Topics UNO, Pat Quinn, Charter Schools
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