Friday, June 22, 2018

As long as they're doing background checks for sexual predators at CPS...

A background check on Gary Solomon -- before throwing $20M no-bid contract his way -- might have averted
the biggest corruption scandal in CPS history. 
Speaking of background checks for possible sexual predators at CPS, Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked school board, probably should have done one on Gary Solomon before throwing that $20M SUPES contract his way. A check might have kept Solomon's partner in crime Barbara Byrd-Bennett out of prison and prevented the biggest corruption scandal in CPS history.
Solomon, a former dean and teacher at suburban Niles West H.S., was accused by that district of sending sexually explicit e-mail messages to female students. Besides those messages, they said he attended a Cubs game with students during a school day when no field trip was planned. They accused him of keeping a journal on a school computer that described several unprofessional relationships with students.

Finally, Solomon was forced out of Niles Township School District 219 under a cloud after he was accused by his bosses of “immoral and unprofessional” conduct, including allegations he kissed a female student, covered up students’ drug and alcohol use,and sent “sexually suggestive, predatory” emails to students, court records show.

While no criminal charges were ever filed, Solomon was barred from ever teaching in the district again. Solomon resigned from his post as part of a settlement back in 2001 and began a consulting business with former Niles West student Thomas Vranas, one that also included a partnership with former Chicago schools CEO and current Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas.

Vallas contracted with Solomon to work at schools in Philadelphia. When he was recruited to revive the schools in hurricane-battered New Orleans, Vallas sent a series of letters to Louisiana officials who oversaw the New Orleans district, vouching for Synesi Associates, the education consulting firm that had been started by Solomon in Chicago.

Synesi landed two no-bid contracts worth nearly $893,000 in New Orleans during Vallas’ time running the Recovery School District from 2007 to 2011. 

But Vallas points out: “I’m not the one who gave Gary Solomon a $20 million, no-bid contract.” He's got a point there. That would be Rahm. 

Last year, Solomon was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the bribery scandal. His SUPES consulting group employed Byrd-Bennett before she took her position as chief executive officer of CPS in 2012. Solomon admitted his role in the scheme to bribe Rahm's hand-picked CEO by offering her a percentage of the contracts she helped secure for SUPES. He also pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

This is a man who should have never been allowed anywhere near CPS schools, students or staff. So, as long as they're doing background checks on teachers, coaches, parents and CPS staff, they might want to do them on profit-hungry contractors as well. 

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