(CBS) – Chicago Public Schools would not say Thursday whether CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett was in the office, as new information emerged about the federal investigation linked to her tenure.
Byrd Bennett’s salary from CPS hasn’t been her only source of income, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey stopped short of calling for Byrd Bennett’s resignation but said the federal investigation and questions about a $20 million no-bid contract are a concern. In fact, they reflect a broader ethics problem at CPS, particularly among leaders, Sharkey says.
“There’s a culture of conflict of interest that is highly destructive of the public’s trust,” he said in a written statement.
The teachers union has called for an elected, rather than an appointed, Board of Education. The latest contract talks are underway.
CBS 2 has learned Byrd Bennett is a focus of the federal probe, along with the Wilmette-based SUPES Academy, which offers leadership training to principals. SUPES received that $20 million no-bid contract in 2013, right after CPS closed 50 schools.
Byrd Bennett’s bio states she’d been a coach and trainer for SUPES Academy, but her economic interest forms don’t mention it.
In 2012, she claimed no outside income. Yet she was listed as a senior associate for PROACT, owned by the same man who owns SUPES.
In 2013, she listed three outside jobs paying more than $1,200: Homer Glen’s Education Research Development Institute, where today she’s listed on its website as a senior advisor; the Broad Institute in Los Angeles, as an executive coach; and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
There’s already talk at City Hall the mayor may call on Jesse Ruiz, the current vice president of the school board, to replace Byrd Bennett, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.
Ruiz is an attorney, campaigned for President Obama, and is the former president of the Illinois State Board of Education. He was out of town Thursday and unavailable for comment.