Barbara Byrd-Bennett, appointed as CEO of Chicago Public Schools in late 2012 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, resigned Monday amid a federal corruption probe.
According to NBC Chicago, Byrd-Bennett has been under investigation since April for a $20.5 million no-bid principal training contract awarded to her former employer, Wilmette-based SUPES Academy.
The deal, which has since been suspended by The Chicago Board of Education, was opened for investigation after Byrd-Bennett fail to file financial disclosure statements mandated by state law.
“I am saddened by the circumstances that have led to Barbara’s resignation . . .” Emanuel said in a short statement on Monday.
The Chicago Teachers Union said that Byrd-Bennett’s conduct has left Chicago under a “cloud of suspicion and organizational chaos.”
The Associated Press reported that the shakeup comes “at a critical time for the district,” as CPS is negotiating a new contract with the teachers union and “faces a roughly $1 billion budget shortfall and a severely underfunded pension system.”
In an editorial, The Chicago Sun-Times also raised concerns about the critical juncture for CPS, noting that “Its bond rating is one notch above junk status. The word ‘bankruptcy’ is being bandied about.”
When the Byrd-Bennett investigation was opened in April, Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz took over as interim CEO, and will continue in that role while a replacement is found.
Byrd-Bennett was the fourth CEO of the school system in just five years. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Brizard, spent only 17 months in the role.