| by Project Six

Today, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for bribery and using her position in charge of CPS to grant contracts to connected businesses.

Last year, Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to her role in the bribery and kickback scheme, in which she was guaranteed more than $2 million in bribes to deliver $20 million in CPS contracts to SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates—companies where she worked before taking the helm at CPS.

Faisal Khan, CEO of Project Six, has issued the following statement on Byrd-Bennett’s sentencing:

“While it is a sad day for the families in CPS, it is also shameful for Chicago that the crimes of Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Gary Solomon and SUPES Academy were able to happen in the first place. Byrd-Bennett and the others involved in this bribery scheme are being held responsible for their actions and crimes. But the damages to CPS and the resources that were denied students were allowed to happen by Chicago’s easily manipulated contract system.

“Chicago’s bidding for contracts process is archaic and fertile ground for corruption. Many other cities use blind contracting systems to award city contracts and prevent scandals like this from happening in the first place. There is no reason why Chicago can’t do the same.

“Chicagoans were lucky that Byrd-Bennett and Gary Solomon, the head of SUPES Academy, were caught for their crimes. But the city might not be as lucky the next time, or the time after that. Chicagoans deserve justice and a guarantee that the mayor and City Council will enact real substantive reforms that will prevent these crimes from happening again. The time for lip service is over.”

Additional information is available here and here

BACKGROUND:

Faisal Khan is available for interview at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse or at the Project Six offices at 53 W. Jackson Blvd.

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For bookings or interviews:
Nathaniel Hamilton, nhamilton@thesecretsix.com or (312) 618-6238