Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Chicago's Byrd-Bennett quits amid federal probe

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, resigned today in the middle of a federal investigation into possible misconduct, the New York Times reports.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett in 2012, when she first started as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools

Despite an ongoing federal probe into possible misconduct on her part as chief executive of the school district, Ms Byrd-Bennett hasn’t been charged with any crime yet.

“I am saddened by the circumstances that have led to Barbara’s resignation and I wish her well,” the paper quoted Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, as saying in a statement. Mr Emanuel appointed Ms Byrd-Bennett in 2012. “As a city, our focus must remain on finishing the school year strong and tackling the billion-dollar budget deficit that threatens the progress our students, teachers, principals and parents have made over the last several years,” he said.

Jesse H Ruiz has been serving as interim CEO since April, when Ms Byrd-Bennett began taking leave following reports in the Chicago Tribune that a federal grand jury was hearing evidence about a no-bid contract Ms Byrd-Bennett had awarded to a former employer. Mr Ruiz will continue serving as interim CEO until Ms Byrd-Bennett’s replacement can be named.

Like a few major newspapers, Voxitatis has also called on Ms Byrd-Bennett to step down. When she, in January 2014, decided unilaterally to deny promotion to third, sixth, and eighth graders in the district who refused to submit to a certain standardized test, we wrote this:

We call for the immediate resignation of Barbara Byrd-Bennett, as we conclude, based on her exact statements, that she has absolutely no understanding of the meaning of the tests known as the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and the NWEA MAP test.

We further call upon the Chicago Board of Education to reverse Ms Byrd-Bennett’s written ruling regarding the promotion of students in certain grades.

Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest district, enrolls about 400,000 students in more than 600 schools and has suffered budget problems for more than a decade under the control of incompetent leadership and Chicago’s mayor.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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