In 2015, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigned from her position when she began to be embroiled in the bribery and contract-steering scandal in which she was accused of abusing her position for her own financial gain and the gain of her former employer.
Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to a scheme in which the owners of SUPES Academy, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, would set aside 10 percent of the $20.5 million no-bid contract awarded to SUPES as a kickback for Byrd-Bennett’s role in helping them secure the contract.
Today Byrd-Bennett is being sentenced in federal court for her guilty plea in the bribe scheme. Important information regarding this case includes:
- 2001—Year that Gary Solomon was forced out of his job as a teacher and administrator at Niles West High School, after allegations of misconduct, including sending sexually suggestive emails to students.
- Approximately 500—Number of emails related to the SUPES Academy contract that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration refused to release after a FOIA request from the Chicago Tribune.
- 3—Number of companies owned by Solomon that have received contracts and/or payments from CPS since 2010 (SUPES Academy, Synesi Associates and PROACT).
- Approximately $15 million—Amount those three companies were paid by CPS between 2012 and 2015.
- Approximately $85,000—Amount Solomon has paid thus far in restitution to CPS.
- 4 1/2 Years–Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s prison sentence for her role in the bribery scandal.
- 7 Years—Gary Solomon’s prison sentence for his role in the bribery scandal.
- 18 Months–Thomas Vranas, SUPES co-owner, prison sentence for his role in the bribery scandal.
- $20.5 million—Value of the largest contract awarded to SUPES Academy to train CPS supervisors and principals.
- $2 million—Amount of that contract that SUPES Academy agreed to set aside for Byrd-Bennett, to be paid after Byrd-Bennett left CPS and returned to consulting for SUPES.
- Unanimous—Vote by the Chicago Board of Education to enter into the $20.5 million contract with SUPES. The Board of Education is comprised of political appointees, chosen by the mayor.
- Approximately $2.8 billion—The deficit Chicago Public Schools were running when they entered into the $20.5 million contract with SUPES.
- February 2011—Date Solomon was initially tapped by the Emanuel administration to help find a CPS CEO.
- May 2012—Byrd-Bennett was initially hired by the Chicago Board of Education, as a consultant. In the résumé Byrd-Bennett provided at the time, she disclosed a financial relationship with SUPES.
- October 2012—Byrd-Bennett was hired to replace Emanuel’s original CPS CEO pick, Jean-Claude Brizard.
- $250,000—Byrd-Bennett’s salary as CPS CEO.