The Chicago school board is suing former district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and two education consultants to recover millions of dollars in damages stemming from a contract-steering scheme that led to her resignation and criminal conviction.
DNA Info Chicago reports that the suit accuses Byrd-Bennett, as well as consultants Gary Solomon and Thomas Vransas, of engaging in "a conspiracy and scheme to enrich themselves at the expense of the schoolchildren of the City of Chicago."
Last year, Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to taking bribes from the consultants in exchange for steering no-bid contracts worth more than $23 million to the firms. She has not yet been sentenced.
Criminal charges against Solomon and Vranas are pending. They are partners in two companies, The SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates, that Byrd-Bennett had worked for and that received contracts with the school system after she became CEO.
The school district is asking for $65 million in damages and penalties.
"In plain terms, defendants have stolen money from [the district] and the school children of the city of Chicago, and that money should be returned," the suit asserts.
"Defendants have used and are continuing to use public funds fraudulently obtained...to pay multiple law firms to defend them in their efforts to avoid the consequences of their wrongful conduct."