Dear CPS Parents, Principals and Teachers,

Today, we want to assure you that CPS will do everything in its power to restore integrity to the District and make sure the focus stays where it belongs – on the tremendous progress our students are making thanks to their parents, teachers and principals.

To explain some of the steps we’ve taken, and our plan for the coming months, we want to share with you a letter that Board President Frank Clark and CEO Forrest Claypool sent today to the Education Committee Chairman, Alderman Will Burns. We hope that this helps answer some of your questions. In the meantime, thank you again for everything you are doing to achieve record high ACT scores, raise our graduation rate and make sure that more CPS students than ever before attend and complete college.

Dear Chairman Burns,

As you requested, we are writing to share the safeguards and controls that Chicago Public Schools have instituted since April, along with our plan for putting additional safeguards in place.

While the U.S Attorney made abundantly clear that the former CEO and her co-defendants “worked to hide and conceal their graft” and “misled” officials and the Board of Education, we see it is our duty to do everything we can to assure the public and the hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, principals and parents who depend on CPS, that we will do everything in our power to ensure that this will not happen again.

Our objective is simple: to ensure that every possible dollar reaches our classrooms, and to assure taxpayers that their resources are being used wisely. There are several actions the District has taken and will take to achieve that goal.

First, in June, CPS leadership asked the independent consulting firm Accenture to conduct a third party review of the District’s sole source contracting process.

CPS quickly adopted several of Accenture’s proposals, including establishing a policy that distinguishes sole and single source procurements, as well as publishing sole and single source contracts online in advance of Board meetings to create transparency, and to alert other possible vendors to the contracts. Additionally, on the advice of Accenture, the District redefined sole source vendors as those who have a unique product or service that no other organization can offer to the District.

In the coming months, CPS will institute many of Accenture’s additional recommendations. These additional recommendations include formalizing the Non-Competitive Procurement Review Committee charter, and requiring single or sole source requestors to disclose any past or present business or personal relationships with the vendor. These recommendations will be carefully implemented over the coming months to allow CPS to adopt the measures in a way that enhances current District practices.

In addition, the City’s Inspector General and Commissioner of the Department of Procurement Services are working together at the request of the Mayor to study how successful reforms implemented over the last four years in the City can be expanded to sister agencies, including CPS. Their preliminary recommendations are expected later this year.

Meanwhile, over the last several months Chicago Public Schools has undertaken a top-to-bottom audit that may result in further policy changes if deemed necessary for transparency and to ensure that all the right checks and balances are in place.

Under the leadership of CPS’ new auditor, Andrell Holloway – who has 20 years of experience, including with the Chicago Transit Authority and KPMG LLP – the District has and will examine nearly every aspect of its operations, including the organization itself, its contracts, employee travel, capital projects, facilities, enrollment and individual school operations. Additional areas will also be audited in the coming year.

Thank you again for your consistent support. As we continue to focus on supporting the work of our principals, teachers, students and parents, we look forward to working hard to make sure that they have full confidence that their interests are Chicago Public Schools’ highest priority.

Sincerely,

Frank M. Clark
President
Chicago Board of Education

Forrest Claypool
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools