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Arne Duncan on Byrd-Bennett: Makes you really sad

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he found CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett's involvement in a federal probe "sad" | (AP File Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Depressing — that’s how U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described the downfall of Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

“It just makes you really sad for the city,” said Duncan, a Chicago native who led CPS for eight years until 2009, when President Barack Obama tapped him for the country’s top education job.

“Whatever happens going forward, I just think CPS needs continuity of leadership at the top,” Duncan said during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters Thursday afternoon after visiting Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Bronzeville.

“There’s been a lot of turnover and we just need stability. I’m sure the mayor will make a good choice and the mayor will figure out what the right thing to do is here, and whatever I can do to help, whatever I can do to support, obviously, I’m all in.”

Byrd-Bennett went on paid leave in April after it was revealed that she was under federal investigation for her role in CPS’ decision to award a $20.5 million no-bid contract in 2013 to her previous employer, Wilmette-based SUPES Academy.