CPS Suspends SUPES Contract Amid Federal Probe

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

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.

"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.

“[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.

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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