Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Lightning strikes twice with Barbara Byrd-Bennett who recently pled guilty to wiring over $20 Million in sole source contracts at Chicago Public Schools.

Feds: Ex-CPS CEO 'fraudulently' steered $40M contract in Detroit


"An FBI agent believed corrupt former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked to “fraudulently steer” a $40 million contract to one of the country’s biggest educational publishers while she worked for the Detroit schools, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times."  

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Corruption Busters was advised today that 20 WPS 60 Administrators took a morning tour of Waukegan on Oct. 23, 2015 accompanied by State Rep. Rita Mayfield stopping at 3 or 4 locations for a photo op and then returned to Lincoln Center for a white linen luncheon hosted by the District to recognize Bethel Cager and Amanda Patti for their new leadership at WPS60. 

On its face, this outing appears to be beneficial as it was crafted to introduce new administrators to Waukegan. We are usually cynical as to motives to spend taxpayer money and note that the combined annual salaries of these administrators tops $2 Million plus the cost of lunch at taxpayer expense.

We see a teachable moment here. There are 17,000 students in Waukegan who have little time within the confines of the common core curriculum to get real life experiences. Most may not have even gone one or two miles to see Lake Michigan, let alone visited museums or historical sites in the Chicagoland area.

Waukegan has an incredible and underutilized asset, namely the Waukegan Historical Society located at 1917 N. Sheridan Road within close proximity to all of Waukegan's schools. 

This organization offers a variety of free Outreach and Education Programs that fosters civic pride for residents and a wonderful sense of commuity in Lake County. 

Click here for a  link to their website and programs. 

More focus on experiential education and a de-emphasis on standardized tests (as now advocated by the Obama Administration) is suggested to the braintrust at Lincoln Center.
This would have made great table discussion during the luncheon and provided a positive result from the participation of these experienced educators.

Monday, October 19, 2015

BGA Public Eye: City Colleges adds administrators, boosts tuition

This was written by Sarah Karp of the Better Government Association skarp@bettergov.org published in Chicago Sun Times Oct. 17, 2015

The same predatory practices of padding administrative salaries found in Chicago Public Schools and Waukegan District 60 are now reported at Chicago City Colleges.

In addition, Corruption Busters has an extensive ongoing investigation into sole source outside legal fees that provide billings at $295 per hour to connected law firms in lieu of using in-house staff. 

Back in 2013 Jack Hagerty, of Shefsky (now Taft Law) issued an invoice for a blanket $40,000 approved just prior to the demotion of General Counsel James M. Reilly

FOIA requests failed to uncover the direct work associated with this payment. A complaint was made to the Chicago City Colleges Inspector General regarding lack of oversight and waste of taxpayer dollars. 

We have previously reported Hagerty's propensity to receive sole source legal work from a number of Chicago Sister Agencies, including a $4 Million fee for work associated with Chicago Public Schools.

The Better Government Association led by Andy Shaw recently posted a investigation entitled

$110 million! City’s Legal Bills Pile Up  

(Andrew Schroedter and Patrick Rehkamp/BGA October 17, 2015 6:00 PM)

"With Chicago deeply in debt and straining to pay its bills, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011 vowing to slash spending. Among his primary targets: Annual multi-million dollar payouts to outside legal firms tagged to handle selected city business including defending police misconduct cases.
But Emanuel, now in his second term, has yet to fulfill that promise, according to a BGA Rescuing Illinois analysis of city records.
Since taking office, the Emanuel Administration has paid $110 million to outside counsel, roughly the same amount his predecessor Mayor Richard M. Daley spent on freestanding legal firms in his last term, according to a BGA Rescuing Illinois review."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rutter: Spend Waukegan school administration freebies on the kids

Chicago Tribune article  by David Rutter Oct. 16, 2015
Click here to view the story

Saturday, October 10, 2015

WPS60 Board President Rodriguez working towards safeguarding taxpayer assets

A Lake County News Sun article written by Lauren Zumbach (published October 9, 2015) entitled "District-owned vehicles for Waukegan school administrators an unusual perk" reports that Rodriguez seeks reconsideration of the perk. Current Superintendent Batiste drives a leased 2014 Corolla, while the district purchased the 2012 Highlander driven by Mary Lamping at a cost of $24,000 including warranty. 

Exercising a bit of prudent shopping at Classic Toyota on Green Bay, Lamping could have been furnished a 2016 Corolla LE with  a downpayment of $1,899 and a 24 month lease of $169 for a total cost of $4,056 saving the district $20,000 dollars that could be contributed to direct education and the benefit of Waukegan students.

Corruption Busters applauds President Rodriguez as he endeavors to negotiate a fair contract for the new superintendent after Batiste's tenure concludes at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former head of Chicago Public Schools indicted on Corruption charges by US Attorney

Wired sole source agreements result in diversion of direct education funds that were to benefit students in Chicago Public Schools to connected firm that engaged in kickbacks for Byrd-Bennet's personal gain.

Read the Chicago Tribune Story by clicking on this link

Click here to download the Indictment

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Update 7/12/215
Bethel Cager was earning $117,164 as third area superintendent in Racine for the 2011-2012 school year (Racine Unified Plans Administrator Cuts to Help Balance 2011-2012 Budget).  Batiste hired her at $145,000. That is an increase of $27,836...almost 24% pay bump.

This money could certainly have been allocated to direct instruction to benefit the students.

Perhaps he should have consulted with Anthony Ficarelli to negotiate her salary?? 

Batiste certainly has no problem using taxpayer dollars to take care of his cronies.

Latest Update on Bethel Cager 6/30/2015

According to WPS 60 FOIA response, "Dr. Cager previously served as Principal, Jefferson Middle School, from July 21, 2004 through August 20, 2007, when she voluntarily resigned to accept a position of higher responsibility in the Racine, Wisconsin School System."

Also, according to WPS60 FOIA re administrator's hire dates, Batiste's start date is January 5, 2004. Batiste responded that the "previous superintendent hired Cager". Was this simply a coincidence that both ended up in Waukegan from New Orleans??

Simple arithmetic....$165,000 take away $145,000 equals $20,000 annual decrease in pay to return to Waukegan from Dixmoor. Can't put much of a spin on a downward career move....

Excerpts from Cager's 3 year contract as Superintendent at West Harvey-Dixmoor ending in a Separation Agreement due to "philosophical differences".

While collecting her severance from Dixmoor, according to WPS60 FOIA, "Dr. Cager was engaged as a special Consultant beginning on May 18, 2015, and she has worked at a daily rate of $400 following the school calendar for 12 month employees.  Her engagement as a consultant will end on June 30, 2015.  There is no written contract covering this interim employment."

Cager's new contract with WPS60 starting 7/1/2015

Update on Bethel Cager 6-20-2015

Click here for Cager's contract for Dixmoor District 147 for the period March 14, 2013 to June 30, 2016

Click here for District 147's July 3, 2014 minutes related to Cager's Performance Improvement Plan 

Click here for Separation Agreement of Cager as Superintendent at Dixmoor Dist 147 recorded in minutes dated October 16, 2014.

We are awaiting response from Batiste as to his relationship with Cager after receiving a tip from a confidential source alleging that she is his niece. Update 6/30/2015...Batiste responded that the relationship with Cager is strictly professional.

At the WPS60 June, 2015 board meeting Cager's hiring as Area 2 Associate Superintendent was approved by the board. 

We have asked the Board to suspend this appointment pending an investigation into these allegations.

On June 19, 2015 Michael Rodriguez, Board President WPS60, acknowledged initiating an investigation. We will patiently await the results of the investigation.

June 13, 2015 Posting:

Corruption Busters has an on-going investigation into the ill fated hiring of Theresa Anderson by Mary Lamping & Donaldo Batiste (see Oct. 24, 2014 post http://ow.ly/OgABX and recent student attacks at Jefferson).   

The results of a FOIA response by WPS60 indicates that Anderson has been removed from Jefferson but will continue as a paid district employee at $131,000 through the 2015-2016 school year. 

"As a Principal who was not reclassified or non-renewed prior to April 1, 2015, Mrs. Anderson is protected against demotion or reduction in rank or pay by 105 ILCS 5/10-23.8b through the 2015-2016 School Year." "Dr. Batiste has recently required that Ms. Anderson undertake a special assignment.  This should be addressed by the Board in a more formal way in the near future."

This is particularly egregious because Anderson's employment was challenged one year ago by staff complaints but WPS60 had already approved her contract for the 2014-2015 school year.  Apparently, the same dilatory tactic was used this year to extend her contract. Surely, this was achieved with full knowledge and complicity of Batiste and Lamping.

After Anderson's less than stellar career at Chicago Public Schools, she should not have been hired in Waukegan.

WPS60 has assigned two replacement staff members (one a consultant, Dr. Cager, who had been a Superintendent in the South suburbs and had been removed from the position 
last October but paid through this school year  http://ow.ly/OgE7L) and will hire a new principal at Jefferson for 2015-2016. This effectively doubles the salary expense incurred by taxpayers due to continued inept safeguarding of money.

Bethel Cager is a former employee of WPS60 (another Batiste refugee from New Orleans).  In 2003, both Batiste and Cager are listed on an IRS990 non-profit tax return as Officers, Directors, Trustees or Key Employees of The School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans (see Page 4). 
http://ow.ly/OgK8D. Batiste's saga of Friends & Family continues unabated.

She was the principal, ironically, at Jefferson Middle School and had more than her share of problems. She made a hasty exit amid much criticism and a bit of scandal. She apparently moved to Racine in 2008 or 2009. Now she's back and responsible for, among other things, evaluating the performance of principals!

We suggest that the school board investigate the failure of the administration to terminate Anderson's employment for cause. In addition, the board should institute checks and balances to prevent hiring administrators from other districts without proper due diligence into their performance. 

WPS60 has a legacy of hiring "sloppy seconds with baggage" from other districts to wit Mary Lamping and Bethel Cager . 

The WPS60 Board of Education will soon commence a search for a new Superintendent.  The district will be best served by hiring a dynamic professional educator with proven, measurable success from outside the district to change the culture of corruption by the present administration.