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CPS Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett Resigns Amid Federal Probe

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 1, 2015 2:30PM

Facing a federal investigation into her work as Chicago Public Schools CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigned effective Monday.

Byrd-Bennett, an education leader appointed by the mayor in 2012, left her post on a paid leave in mid-April after federal investigators subpoenaed CPS for information on a $20.5 million no-bid contract. The public schools district gave the contract to Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, the leaders of three education companies she once worked for and the heads of the Wilmette-based Supes Academy. CPS had a contract with Supes, a for-profit coaching service, that was cancelled in April.

Byrd-Bennett had a $250,000-a-year contract with CPS through June 30, 2016, according to the Sun-Times. While Byrd-Bennett has not been accused of any criminal activity, when she announced her leave in April, after the investigation came to light, she said she did not want the investigation to take away from the work of the district. Her paid leave of absence would have run out this week.

In her resignation letter, sent to school board president David Vitale Friday, Byrd-Bennett said she will "always be thankful for the opportunity to serve the children of Chicago."

Vitale said in a statement Sunday that interim CEO Jesse Ruiz would continue in his temporary role.

In a statement sent to reporters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was "saddened" by the circumstances that led to the resignation.

Three Byrd-Bennett employees also facing federal subpoenas will remain in their six-figure jobs, district spokesman Bill McCaffrey told the Sun-Times.