Today, CPS filed a civil complaint seeking $65 million in damages and civil penalties from Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Gary Solomon, Thomas Vranas, SUPES and Synesi in Cook County Circuit Court.
Here are CPS CEO Forrest Claypool’s remarks as prepared for today:
Thank you for coming today.
As our families and students are painfully aware, CPS is in a dire fiscal situation.
In the past few months, we’ve streamlined Central Office and closed more than 400 administrative positions.
We’ve borrowed $725 million that will keep our doors open by reimbursing capital expenses that we already paid.
We’re furloughing all staff for three days this year, with minimal impact to the classroom but $30 million in savings for our budget.
We reduced school budgets by $85 million this year and just this week, asked our principals to slow down voluntary spending at the end of the year so we can preserve as much cash as possible.
We’re rapidly approaching a looming $700 million pension payment that no other district in the State has to pay – on top of paying more than $1 billion in pensions in the past two years.
In short, we must keep watch on every dollar.
Which brings me to why we’re here today.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett and her co-conspirators knew the District’s dire straits and still concocted a scheme to divert needed resources away from classrooms and line their own pockets.
So today, at my direction, CPS took action in Cook County Court to go after the $65 million in damages and civil penalties that our children are entitled to receive.
Under Illinois law – specifically the Recovery of Fraudulently Obtained Public Funds Act –entities that have been defrauded by corrupt individuals and corporations can pursue damages and civil penalties up to three times the amount that was fraudulently obtained.
The 10-count complaint also includes allegations of civil conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
With serious budget challenges facing the district, we’ll continue to fight for every dollar our children deserve.