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Thu Oct 15, 2015, 09:10 AM

The Plot to Steal Millions From Chicago’s Schoolkids

As Chicago Public Schools CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett shut dozens of schools and fired hundreds of teachers—while pocketing $2.3 million in kickbacks. So why did she get to cut a plea deal?

If any corrupt public official ever deserved the maximum prison sentence, it was former Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

The 66-year-old educator pleaded guilty this week to seeking to pocket more than $2 million in kickbacks for no-bid contracts even as she was closing schools by the dozen and laying off teachers by the hundred.

This in a city becoming known as Chiraq, where officials had to mark off 53 safe passage routes with 600 civilian sentinels so students from closed schools could walk to their new schools without being attacked by gangs.

But rather than receive the maximum 14 years under federal sentencing guidelines, Byrd-Bennett will not even serve the 11-year minimum for violating a bond of trust with 400,000 schoolkids. She will instead get 7 1/2 years in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors.


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