Federal authorities investigating at CPS

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Federal authorities are investigating an unnamed matter at Chicago Public Schools, the district confirmed Wednesday, declining to specify what it pertains to.

Board of Education president David Vitale released a brief statement by email saying, “Yesterday the Board of Education was made aware that federal authorities are investigating a matter at CPS and have requested interviews with several employees.

“We take any allegation of misconduct seriously, and we are fully cooperating with investigators who requested that we not discuss any specifics regarding the ongoing investigation.”

District spokesman Bill McCaffrey declined to provide any further specifics on what the matter might be, who’s involved or which agencies may be investigating.

After Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he did not know enough about the matter to comment — or to give a vote of confidence to schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

“I don’t even know who they’re looking at. It’s a CPS matter,” Emanuel said. He added that Vitale has said he would be meeting with CPS board members Wednesday afternoon.

“The federal authorities that are investigating don’t share a lot while they have an active investigation. So, I’m as eager as you are for answers to questions. [But] I’m not the person that can provide them at this moment,” Emanuel said. “While it’s ongoing, we have to respect and I’m going to honor their request.”

Emanuel said he spoke to Byrd-Bennett briefly before Tuesday’s luncheon marking the Chicago Public Education Fund’s 15th anniversary, and “she said the authorities are looking at a matter at CPS. Then I had to go into the luncheon to give a speech.”

Kimberly Nerheim, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, would neither confirm nor deny an investigation is ongoing.

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