CPS sues Barbara Byrd-Bennett, SUPES for $65M

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Thursday, March 10, 2016
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former Chicago Public Schools CEO.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former Chicago Public Schools CEO.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools filed a civil suit Thursday seeking $65 million in damages and penalties from former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and SUPES Academy, among other defendants.

"With scarce resources, staff furloughs and painful budget cuts, CPS is keeping a close watch on every dollar. Barbara Byrd-Bennett and her co-conspirators knew the District's dire straits and still concocted this scheme to divert needed resources away from classrooms and line their own pockets," current CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement.

CPS filed the complaint against Byrd-Bennett, Gary Solomon, Thomas Vranas, SUPES and Synesi in Cook County Circuit Court. Illinois law allows entities that have been defrauded to pursue damages and could be owed civil penalties of three times the amount that was fraudulently obtained under state law.

The 10-count complaint also includes allegations of civil conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

Byrd-Bennett resigned from CPS on June 1, 2015 after being on paid leave from the district since mid-April amid a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract given to SUPES Academy, an education consulting company where Byrd-Bennett once worked. She was indicted on corruption charges on Oct. 8. She pleaded guilty to one of the 20 fraud counts - the others were dismissed.

Solomon and Vranas, the co-owners of SUPES, pleaded not guilty to offering bribes to Byrd-Bennett.