The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district is taking a closer look at all contracts issued under former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The Chicago ex-schools chief pleaded guilty this week to taking part in a $20 million kickback scheme.
Prior to coming to CPS, Byrd-Bennett was working at DPS as the district's chief academic and accountability auditor, earning $18,000 a month. During her tenure, DPS reportedly entered into a $3.4 million contract with Synesi Associates, one of the companies named in the CPS kickback scheme indictment. DPS also signed a contract with another company, PROACT Search, which is another company owned by the heads of Synesi Associates.
"DPS is committed to transparency in all of its business operations," said DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski via statement. "As with any matter where there are allegations of misconduct, the district investigates internally and works cooperatively with the law enforcement agency handling such matters. In the case of Ms. Byrd-Bennett, we are continuing to work closely with law enforcement officials."
Byrd-Bennett also raised eyebrows in Detroit when the district signed a $40 million contract with book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, another previous employer of the disgraced school official.