Tuesday, November 3, 2015

CALL FOR RESTITUTION BY PERPETRATORS OF SOLE SOURCE CONTRACTS FOR PERSONAL GAIN AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

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

WRITTEN BY JON SEIDEL, DAN MIHALOPOULOS AND LAUREN FITZPATRICK  Chicago Sun Times 11/2/2015

"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

A GOOD START?

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

ADMINISTRATION AT WPS60 CONTINUES FINANCIALLY WASTEFUL LEGACY OF SCHOOL MIS-MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT ENDANGERMENT

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.






Thursday, May 21, 2015

Legacy of sole source wired deals at Chicago Public Schools results in Federal
Probe


Chicago Tribune Clout Street has extensive coverage on the $20 Million sole source deal that resulted in Barbara Byrd Bennett's "leave of absence".

Read the full story here http://ow.ly/NfvqK

Thursday, April 30, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEW WPS60 PRESIDENT, MR. R. MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ AND VICE PRESIDENT MR. RICK RIDDLE

http://www.wps60.org/school_board/board_members

Truly A New Day, A New Way! Kudos to the voters of Waukegan who seek honest government and prudent oversight of taxpayer dollars.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

INVESTIGATION AT CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS RE WIRED SOLE SOURCE CONTRACTS ESCALATES WITH FEDERAL PROBE

The legacy of wasted spending by Chicago's Mayoral appointed school board results in $20 Million sole source contract gifted to company that formerly employed Barbara Byrd-Bennett and her cronies. Despite complaints regarding allegations of sub-standard training for principals, the board had voted unanimously to approve the contract. It is surprising that there was no internal investigation into these complaints prior to the Federal probe just announced. 

Click here for Chicago Tribune article

Corruption Busters has an ongoing investigation into the waste of millions of taxpayer funds by CPS to award sole source outside legal fees to politically connected law firms for work that could be provided by internal staff. CPS has a General Counsel, James Bebley, whose sole function apparently is to approve invoices from these firms.

We call upon the Feds to expand their probe to investigate these additional sole source contracts.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

CONTINUED STUDENT VIOLENCE PLAGUES WAUKEGAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

Batiste & Lamping fail to curb in-school student attacks, instead threatening staff with retaliation for reporting these incidents that endanger students and district personnel.

In response to our on-going investigation, Corruption Busters was contacted today regarding a violent altercation at the Brookside Campus involving up to 8 students resulting in allegations of an attack on a student with a lock that caused injury.

If you have information related to this incident, please contact us at corruptionbusters24x7x365@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

WPS60 Unofficial School Board Election Results 4-7-2015

Three corrupt incumbents voted out of office.

Congrats to the winners.
Your new responsibilities include restoring fiscal and educational integrity to Waukegan.

We suggest that the board vote to remove Anita Hanna as President and also insure that her sweet-heart deal to get free rent and use of a WPS60 School building for her family day camp business not be renewed at taxpayer expense.

We also encourage the new board to fully scrutinize the cronyism regime of Batiste & Lamping, put a stop to their spending & personal gain and commence setting the foundation for searching for a new Superintendent who will make Waukegan proud.



Monday, April 6, 2015

WHERE IS DR. DONALDO BATISTE, SUPERINTENDENT WPS60, AS CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES RUN RAMPANT AT JEFFERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL?

Last week the Assistant Principal (Nichole Farris) of Miguel Juarez Middle School of Waukegan removed her daughter from Thomas Jefferson Middle School stating the building is too dangerous. 

Remember Theresa Anderson, Principal at Jefferson? Click here for our previous post on October 26, 2014.  Apparently, Anderson has lost control of the school and has again illustrated that she is fully unqualified to maintain a proper and safe learning environment. 

Breaking News....WPS60 engages in cover up to conceal underage drinking, drug use, fights, weapons assaults on students with blades, forcible hair cutting and fireworks in the cafeteria. 

In the past few weeks Waukegan Police have responded to numerous incidents where students and teachers' physical safety are at risk. We invite the good citizens of Waukegan to request copies of these incident reports from the Police Department to validate the veracity of these claims.

Here is the content of an email authored by Anderson to the staff:


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Two mothers of students in Waukegan School District 60 are calling for the resignation of Superintendent Donaldo Batiste for what they say has been a mishandled response to allegations of inappropriate contact between staff and their children.

Click here to view story at Chicago Tribune April 1, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PEARSON VIOLATES STUDENTS' PRIVACY RELATED TO PARCC TESTING

From: Randi Weingarten, AFT President
To:  Press Outlets
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 10:37:24 AM
Subject: Pearson is spying on students

Big Brother really is watching. Outrageously, testing giant Pearson is spying on what students are saying on social media.1 

Right now, students in 12 states and the District of Columbia are taking the Common Core-aligned PARCC test. And we’ve just learned that Pearson is monitoring what those students say online for “test security.”

We’re demanding that Pearson immediately stop monitoring students on social media and disclose any contract language about test security for full public review. Add your name!

This isn’t the first time Pearson has been caught engaging in unscrupulous behavior. Last year, we spoke up when we learned that Pearson’s contract in New York put a gag order2 on educators who proctored the tests, and earlier this year Politico exposed how Pearson has squeezed profits out of our schools, from Florida to Texas to California.3

Now we find out that the company is actually spying on students—many of whom are minors. It’s one thing to protect intellectual property, but this raises far too many questions.

How is Pearson monitoring students? What information about students does Pearson have, where did it get it, and what will it keep? Is Pearson reviewing everything students post? What protections are there for student privacy? What basis does Pearson use for its searches? Is the monitoring based on general search terms, or is Pearson actively following specific individuals? Who else is Pearson secretly monitoring?

Pearson must stop monitoring our children and open the books to show us who the company is watching and why.

Even if you don’t live in a PARCC state, we should all be concerned.
As the largest for-profit education, testing and book publisher in the world, Pearson is involved in education in nearly every state, with testing contracts in 21 states, plus Washington, D.C., New York City and Puerto Rico. In total, 39 percent of all standardized tests in the United States are run by Pearson.4


Sadly, all of this comes back to the obsession with high-stakes tests. The results from these tests will be used to punish teachers and schools—and may even be used to hold kids back5—all while Pearson rakes in millions to create and score the tests and spy on our students.

Tell Pearson to stop spying on students and commit to full transparency for all matters related to “test security.”

We learned what Pearson is up to from a leaked email that a New Jersey superintendent sent to her peers after one of her students was flagged for a “Priority 1” breach. To make matters worse, the New Jersey Department of Education wanted the local school to discipline the student.

Parents, students and educators all have a right to know what’s happening. I hope you’ll join us in demanding that Pearson immediately stop monitoring our students and commit to full transparency around its “security” practices.

In unity,

Randi Weingarten
AFT President

[1] Valerie Strauss, “Pearson Monitoring Social Media for Security Breaches during PARCC Testing,” Washington Post, March 14, 2015.
[2] Michelle Davis, “AFT Goes to England to Protest ‘Gag Order’ on Test Questions,” Education Week, April 28, 2014.
[3] Stephanie Simon, “No Profit Left Behind,” Politico, February 10, 2015.
[4] Matthew Chingos, Strength in Numbers (Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, November 2012).
[5] Molly Callister, “Why Los Angeles Sends Failing Students on to the Next Grade,” Hechinger Report, August 14, 2014.