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Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara ByrdBennett WGN-TV
<p>Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett</p>

Federal probe of former Chicago Schools CEO expands to Detroit

Investigators are looking at contracts awarded in Detroit when Barbara Byrd-Bennett was the district&#39;s chief academic and accountability auditor

Contracts awarded in Detroit by Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO who pleaded guilty this week in a kickback scheme, are now under federal investigation.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that while she worked for Detroit Public Schools from 2009 to 2011, the district awarded some $3.4 million in contracts to Synesi Associates, one of the companies charged in the Chicago bribery case along with co-owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas.

The Detroit district also awarded more work to PROACT Search, another of Solomon’s and Vranas’ education service companies, to fill five top positions after Byrd-Bennett left her Detroit schools job and became a coach for Synesi and SUPES.

In Detroit, Byrd-Bennett was an $18,000-a-month chief academic and accountability auditor under emergency manager Robert Bobb, who was appointed by Michigan's governor to oversee the financially struggling system.

ALSO: Two men allegedly involved in the bribery scandal that has led to the conviction of the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools have entered not guilty pleas in the case.

WTTW-TV reports that Gary Solomon and Tom Vranas, the owners of SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates, appeared in court the day after Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted guilt in a scheme that paid her kickback for steering contracts to SUPES, where she had worked previously.

The men are charged with mail and wire fraud, and bribery. Their company, which trains principals and other administrators, received $23 million in contracts with the Chicago school system. Prosecutors alleged that Byrd-Bennett was to receive $2 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering the business to the SUPES Academy.


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