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Chicago Public Schools Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has resigned from office amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract to one of her former employers, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Byrd-Bennett, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, announced the leave via a statement on Friday; it went into effect Monday. She did not give any reasons for her decision, notes the report.

CPS records indicate that the district approved a “leadership development services” agreement with the Wilmette, Illinois-based SUPES Academy for up to $20.5 million that extended through June 2016, the Tribune writes. The company, which once employed Byrd-Bennett, was hired on a “non-competitive basis” to train school network chiefs and principals.

Reports The Chicago Tribune:

Byrd-Bennett has been on paid leave since mid-April, when school officials released wide-ranging subpoenas from the federal investigation.  Her paid leave was scheduled to end next week and she had not been expected to return to her post….

The investigation centers on a $20.5 million no-bid contract at CPS related to an elite nonprofit education group that has long been at the center of city school reform efforts.  Federal corruption investigators have also sought records related to some of Byrd-Bennett’s top deputies.

Byrd-Bennett, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, acknowledged when she went on leave that her presence could divert attention from the pressing affairs of the district as it tackles labor talks with the city’s teachers union and confronts a $1.1 billion budget deficit.

Appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2012, Byrd-Bennett’s tenure has been rocked by criticism amid persistent furor over her decision in 2013 to close over 50 struggling schools in predominantly African-American communities. Scores of teachers have also received layoff notices under her watch.

The outcome of the federal investigation will be important to improving morale among students and teachers in the nation’s third largest school system.

SOURCE: The Chicago Tribune| VIDEO SOURCE: NDN


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