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School Administrator Who Defrauded Chicago Public Schools Accused of Similar Crimes in Detroit

Detroit-Public-Schools-DPS--jpgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT –– A former Detroit Public Schools official who pleaded guilty last month to defrauding schools in Chicago is accused of illegally steering a $40 million book deal to DPS, according to court records obtained by the Detroit Free Press. 

The records show that Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was the accountability officer for DPS from May 2009 to June 2011, had a conflict of interest and lied about her relationship with the book publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

While she worked later at Chicago Public Schools, Byrd-Bennett helped steer $23 million in no-bid contracts in return for $2.3 million in kickbacks and bribes.

She pleaded guilty last month in the Chicago Public Schools case.

A search warrant for her AOL account uncovered the new allegations.

The FBI believes there is “probable cause” that Byrd-Bennett committed theft, fraud and conspiracy while working for DPS.

DPS officials said they are cooperating.

“Detroit Public Schools takes seriously any allegations of misconduct against its employees and/or vendors,” DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski wrote in an e-mail. “As with any matter where there are allegations of misconduct, DPS investigates internally and works cooperatively with the law enforcement agency handling such matters.


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