Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey said Monday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s fourth appointed schools chief should be a veteran educator with strong existing ties to Chicago so the district might enjoy a little stability.
The day after Emanuel announced the resignation of CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who steps down in the middle of a federal probe into a $20.5 million no-bid contract she recommended, the CTU asked the mayor to choose as the sixth CEO since 2010 “someone who’s a veteran educator, someone who has some roots in Chicago, who knows our city. Someone who’s been around for a while who’s likely to stick around for a while.”
Sharkey also called for the rest of the Board of Education to be replaced, especially president David Vitale who cast one of six votes to approve the questionable contract with SUPES Academy.
“We’d like to see a clean sweep,” Sharkey said Monday at CTU headquarters.
Byrd-Bennett went on paid leave in mid-April, days after subpoenas sent by the U.S. Department of Justice to CPS came to light. She said at the time she didn’t want to be a distraction to the district that faces a $1.1 billion deficit and massive pension problems.
The subpoenas sought records about Byrd-Bennett, three top aides she brought with her to Chicago, and three companies owned by Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas. Two of those companies, SUPES and Synesi Associates, once employed Byrd-Bennett.
Late Sunday night, the mayor’s office released her resignation letter dated Friday. No one would comment on the timing of her stepping down. Had she not resigned, her contract would have lasted until June 30, 2016.
Byrd-Bennett did not respond to emails seeking comment. Her CPS email account now is suspended.
Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz — who also voted for the SUPES contract as vice president of of the Board of Education — has said he expected to lead CPS through the transition for a few months, hoping to finalize a new contract with teachers that expires June 30.