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Ex Schools Chief Byrd-Bennett Pleads Guilty And Faces Jail Time

By Kate Shepherd in News on Oct 13, 2015 4:50PM

Former Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett is facing up to seven-and-a-half years in prison after she pled guilty Tuesday morning to federal corruption charges.

Byrd-Bennett appeared in court and answered questions from U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang in a 45-minute hearing, according to the Tribune. She is cooperating with prosecutors and won't be sentenced until the charges against her co-defendants have been resolved.

She's charged with awarding multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts to her former employer SUPES Academy in exchange for kickbacks and other perks.

Byrd-Bennett's guilty plea ironically comes three years after Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her as CPS CEO. On Oct. 12, 2012, Emanuel introduced her to reporters as "the best and the brightest" during a news conference.

The Tribune, which is suing Emanuel for access to his emails, called on the mayor to release his emails regarding the illegal SUPES contract in an editorial.

"Under state law, the mayor runs Chicago's schools. The buck stops with Emanuel. And this deal had trouble written all over it," the editorial board wrote. "Emanuel's hand-picked school board voted unanimously to award the lucrative contract to SUPES Academy - former employer of schools' CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett - without even exploring whether another company could do the work better or for less money."

Some of Byrd-Bennett's angry emails about the deal were released by CPS last week.