Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, plead guilty and then told CPS students and teachers on the courthouse steps. “I’m terribly sorry and I apologize to them. They deserved much more, much more than I gave to them,” She plead guilty, according to various news reports, to charges in an alleged scheme to steer $23 million in no-bid contracts to her former employer, education consulting firm SUPES Academy, for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks. According to federal prosecutors, bribes included a college fund for her grandchildren. Barbara Byrd-Bennett is 66 years old.
She released a full statement via her attorney:
Today I pled guilty to federal crimes I committed while CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. The people of Chicago as well as CPS, its teachers, staff, and-most especially, its students-deserved more and better from me.
There is nobody to blame but me, and my failings could not have come at a time of greater challenges for CPS. The issues CPS faces are significant, and the City needs-and the children deserve-leaders who are working without conflicts of interest.
I have devoted my entire professional life to public education and, while there is no excusing or downplaying my misconduct, I believe I have done a lot of good, including in Chicago. Today, though, all I can say is that I am truly sorry and that it is time for the District and City to move forward.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s courtroom pleading was her first since being indicted October 8. She was never arrested or taken into custody.
As usual Twitter was buzzing following her guilty plea and apology:
Former Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett pleads guilty to kickback scheme http://t.co/p61IyQglji Shock, graft in Chicago!
— The Ex Liberal (@exlibinsf) October 13, 2015
UPDATE: After ex-CPS CEO pleads guilty to corruption charges, Ald. Pawer says it’s an indictment of privatization http://t.co/Rco2ybKtMQ
— DNAinfo.com Chicago (@DNAinfoCHI) October 8, 2015
"I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit. (:" Byrd-Bennett wrote. She's pleading guilty to corruption charges: http://t.co/xL0okBHnBA
— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) October 8, 2015
Chicago: More Barbara Byrd-Bennett Contracts Investigated http://t.co/7c2hRZroSk
— Diane Ravitch (@DianeRavitch) October 13, 2015