OPINION: Chicago Public Schools Enact Poor Public Policy

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What are you thinking Chicago Public Schools?

The Chicago Public School (CPS) Board approved a $61,000,000 contract with Compass/Chartwells and several of the companies that sub-contract to make up the minority participation mandates, are “pass-thru” companies and brokers. Reggio’s Pizza, the only African American manufacturer of any food product for CPS, was kicked off of the contract after eight (8) years and replaced with a pass-thru company by Chartwells. The negative effect of this action will require Reggio’s to lay off about forty (40) African American employees, at a time when the unemployment rate is between 20-25% in the African American community.

Chartwells, a Compass Group company, has been charged with racial discrimination where eleven (11) African Americans in Philadelphia filed a $200 million dollar lawsuit that has been expanded to a class action suit involving 1,000 present and former employees. The Compass Group and its affiliate companies have been involved with bribery, bid-rigging and violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

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Further, when doing business with the city of Chicago, vendors and contractors are required to file an Economic Disclosure Statement and Affidavit, which presents another interesting scenario as to the legality of the contract signed by Compass, Chartwells and Thompson-Hospitality, as a joint venture partner for the contract that was approved by CPS beginning June 21, 2010.

Furthermore, there is an ongoing investigation by the CPS Inspector General, Mr. James Sullivan, at the request of Reggio’s, regarding the manner in which Chartwells and the Manager of the OBD (Office of Business Diversity) apply credits for minority participation, when obviously several of the sub-contractors on this contract are either pass-thru companies or brokers, and do not perform the work on the contract, using their own forces, as required by the Remedial Plan of CPS, revised March 1, 2007,

It appears to be extremely poor public policy, insensitivity or arrogance when CPS will sign a contract with a company charged with racial bias against its Black employees, when the Chicago Public Schools is 85% minority. There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration in the African American community regarding Chartwells non-renewal of Reggio’s contract.

So again I ask what are you thinking Chicago Public Schools?

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