Chicago community activists and local elected officials delivered 88,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) regional office Thursday morning, urging the agency to investigate complex financial agreements called interest rate swaps.
Those who delivered the petition signatures, collected online by the Grassroots Collaborative and several other organizations, say cash-strapped local and state governments are being squeezed by the "toxic swaps" they entered into with banks before the Great Recession. The complicated deals, which come with hefty penalties and termination fees, were intended to save taxpayer-backed organizations money, but they backfired when the economy crashed.
The U.S. Department of Education announced a loan forgiveness program for students who were defrauded by Corinthian Colleges Inc., the now-defunct, for-profit college chain that operated Everest and WyoTech campuses.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was reportedly investigating a deal signed under Barbara Byrd-Bennett during her tenure at the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district long before she came to Chicago to run the city's public school system.
The oversight system of charter schools in Illinois contains "fundamental flaws" that need to be revamped in order to prevent fraud, argues a report by Action Now and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).
The report -- which pointed to the scandal involving insider deals at the charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) as a more recent example of the need for stronger oversight -- noted that over $13 million in charter school fraud, waste or abuse has been uncovered in Illinois since the legislature passed a 1996 law allowing charters to open in the state.
As a result of the state's "lack of transparency and necessary oversight," there are likely more instances in which funds were inappropriately used in the Illinois charter system than has been reported, the researchers claim. According to their estimate, charter school fraud in Illinois tallied up to nearly $28 million in the last year alone.