News Article | April 29, 2017
Barbara Byrd-Bennett leaves the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago on Friday, April 28, 2017, after being sentenced for her role in a bribery scandal. The former head of Chicago Public Schools was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Friday for steering $23 million in city contracts to education firms for a cut of more than $2 million in kickbacks. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP) CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge lamented the persistence of city corruption Friday as he sentenced the former head of Chicago Public Schools to 4 ½ years in prison for steering $23 million in no-bid city contracts to education firms for a cut of more than $2 million in kickbacks. Barbara Byrd-Bennett's brazenness in bilking a district buckling under major financial strain made her crime much worse, Judge Edmond Chang said at the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago. A tearful Byrd-Bennett apologized in court before learning her punishment, saying: "What I did was terribly wrong. ... I'm ashamed and I'm sorry." The 67-year-old Byrd-Bennett and her co-schemers have further eroded public confidence in a city with a long history of corruption, Chang said. It was vital to impose a punishment that can deter other officials tempted to accept bribes and kickbacks, he said. "It's distressing that Chicago has not and seems to be unable to shed its image of public corruption," he said. The scheme, Chang added, had diverted money from students who relied on education to help them escape poverty and crime. He cited emails to co-defendants where Byrd-Bennett expressed an eagerness to make money, writing in one: "I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit." Such "casualness" and "humor" about corruption suggested she never thought she'd be caught, the judge said. Before being tapped to lead the Chicago district — the nation's third largest with 400,000, mostly low-income students — Byrd-Bennett held top education jobs in Detroit, Cleveland and New York. As a young woman, she worked as a teacher in low-income neighborhoods in New York City near where she was raised, and later became a "superstar" in the world of education reform, prosecutor Megan Church told the court earlier Friday. But she succumbed to "naked greed" and a sense of entitlement as she took the Chicago post in 2012, Church said. "She thought she was owed something more for what she did in the past," Church said. "And Chicago was the place to get it." Bennett faced a maximum 20 years behind bars. Prosecutors asked for 7 ½ years, in part because she had agreed to cooperate shortly after her arrest. The defense asked for a 3 ½-year sentence. Chang said he also factored in Byrd-Bennett's age and how she had revitalized schools in different cities over her 40-year career. And he noted what he described as her quiet acts of kindness, including helping to pay for the funerals of some students. Co-defendants, SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, also pleaded guilty to related charges. Chang sentenced Solomon to seven years in prison last month; Vranas received an 18-month sentence earlier Friday. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hired Byrd-Bennett five years ago, vowing to revitalize a school district criticized for low student performance. As CEO, Byrd-Bennett oversaw the shuttering of dozens of schools in a money-saving measure. Byrd-Bennett said in court Friday that she had become overwhelmed as the head of CPS, recalling how parents yelled at her for closing their neighborhood schools and accused her of putting their kids in peril by forcing them to walk to new schools farther away. When scrutiny of district contracts grew in 2013, Byrd-Bennett began deleting potentially incriminating emails, according to prosecutors. She resigned in June 2015, as word spread of an investigation. In exchange for pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud in 2015, prosecutors agreed to drop 19 other counts of fraud charged in the original indictment.
News Article | April 28, 2017
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest the sentencing of the former head of Chicago Public Schools (all times local): A federal judge has sentenced the former head of Chicago Public Schools to more than four years in prison for steering $23 million in city contracts to education firms in exchange for more than $2 million in bribes and kickbacks. A tearful Barbara Byrd-Bennett apologized in court before she was sentenced Friday in Chicago. She said she was ashamed and led astray by a sense of entitlement as head of the nation's third-largest school district. U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang told the 68-year-old that the brazenness of bilking a cash-strapped school district suggested she never believed she'd get caught. The federal judge also said he wanted to send a message to other would-be corrupt officials. Prosecutors asked for a prison term of more than seven years. Chang said he took into account Bennett's good work during her career. He also noted her acts of kindness, including paying for the funerals of some students. A federal judge in Chicago has sentenced a co-defendant in a Chicago Public Schools kickbacks scheme to 18 months in prison. Friday's hearing for Thomas Vranas came hours before the same judge was set to sentence the former head of CPS, Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Byrd-Bennett steered $23 million in city contracts to Vranas and another education company executive, Gary Solomon, for kickbacks. Solomon received a seven-year sentence last month. Judge Edmond Chang told Vranas that Chicago is plagued by corruption, but that this corruption is "all the worse" because it diverted funds from students striving to improve their lives. Prosecutors wanted Vranas to serve three years in prison. The defense requested probation. But Chang said Vranas wasn't a central player in the scheme and praised his charitable work over the years. A federal judge in Chicago is set to sentence the former head of the nation's third-largest school district for steering $23 million in city contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks. Barbara Byrd-Bennett faces up to 20 years behind bars Friday. Prosecutors want 7½ years and the defense will seek 3½. Prosecutors say the 68-year-old was already well-off, including a $250,000 salary as Chicago Public Schools CEO. They've said her decision to scam the 400,000-student district was "rooted in greed." Byrd-Bennett began her career as a teacher in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. She's also held top education jobs in Detroit and Cleveland. A defense filing says she feels "crushing humiliation and shame" for what she's done and will speak in court before being sentenced.
News Article | April 29, 2017
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's mayor said the city's public schools will remain open until the end of the school year, despite a judge's decision Friday to toss a district lawsuit over education funding by the state of Illinois. Cook County Circuit Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama denied a Chicago Public Schools motion for an injunction seeking to bar the state from distributing education funds in a discriminatory manner. He also ruled in favor of the state's motion to dismiss the case, but is allowing CPS to come back with a new argument. He gave the school district until May 26 to file an amended complaint. CPS CEO Forrest Claypool had said the judge's decision could mean the district would end the school year on June 1 without additional funding from the state. "The kids of the City of Chicago will be in school until the end of the school year," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference Friday. "That is where they belong." Although CPS officials said they haven't determined how the district will pay its bills, Emanuel said officials will search for funds to keep the doors open. "Missing a school day is wrong," he said. While Valderrama rejected the lawsuit, he did express sympathy for the plight of Chicago's school district. "The court is not oblivious to the fiscal challenges confronting CPS," Valderrama wrote in his opinion. "To say that the State's current scheme of funding public education is broken is to state the obvious. Plaintiffs' Complaint, however, as constituted is not the vehicle to redress this inequity." CPS argued that the way the state funds its schools violates the civil rights of Chicago's predominantly-minority student population. CPS educates 20 percent of Illinois students, but the district only receives 15 percent of state funding. Emanuel said the children in Chicago's poorer neighborhoods of Englewood and Woodlawn count just as much as those in the city's wealthier suburbs. "We are not asking for special treatment for the children of Chicago, we are seeking equitable treatment," he said. Illinois disperses money to schools through a complex calculation that provides per-student funding that even state officials acknowledge is insufficient, causing school districts to rely heavily on local property tax revenues. There's wide consensus that the 1997 formula is unfair with a wide spending gap between low and high poverty districts, like Chicago. But there's little agreement on how to overhaul it and the nearly two-year state budget impasse has overshadowed other issues at the Capitol.
News Article | May 5, 2017
SchoolMint, the leading provider of cloud-based student enrollment and school choice software for PreK-12 school systems worldwide, was named a Bronze Stevie® Awards winner in the 2017 American Business AwardsSM. SchoolMint was recognized in the Apps and Mobile Websites – School/University category. Last year, SchoolMint also won a Silver Stevie Award in the New Product or Service of the Year – Education – K-12 Enterprise Solution category. “As we continue to expand our footprint in schools and districts nationwide, we remain committed to providing staff and families with the most comprehensive and flexible, online student registration software to streamline the student enrollment process,” said Jinal Jhaveri, SchoolMint Founder and CEO. “Being recognized by the Stevie Awards in back-to-back years is a great honor and is a testament to SchoolMint’s continued impact on PreK-12 education.” SchoolMint’s comprehensive software system includes four primary modules: ● School Application and Lottery Management ● Student Registration Management ● Digital Forms and Documents ● School Choice and Unified Enrollment These student enrollment solutions empower parents by providing mobile and online multilingual access to their school’s enrollment process. SchoolMint also helps school systems increase operational efficiency, lower costs, and develop greater analytic and planning insights through robust enrollment reporting tools. The system’s integration with leading SISs additionally helps ease the burden on school staff and uphold data accuracy. Since 2013, more than 4,000 district and charter schools nationwide have partnered with SchoolMint to improve the enrollment experience for both parents and staff. These include schools in innovative, forward-thinking districts such as Chicago Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, Camden City School District, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Oakland Unified School District, and Spring Branch Independent School District, among others. Judges complimented SchoolMint for its “good use of technology to resolve multiple friction points in previous processes for school enrollment, payments, and communication,” and called it an “excellent school management system.” In addition to winning the 2016 and 2017 American Business Awards, SchoolMint was recently named a winner of the EdTech Digest Awards, District Administration Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products, and The ComputED Gazette’s Education Software Review (EDDIE) Awards. To learn more about the American Business Awards and to view a list of 2017 Stevie Awards winners, visit http://www.StevieAwards.com/ABA. About the Stevie Awards Stevie Awards are conferred in seven programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 10,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 60 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at http://www.StevieAwards.com. About SchoolMint SchoolMint provides a cloud-based student enrollment and school choice platform to PreK-12 school systems worldwide. Since its founding in 2013, more than 4,000 schools have chosen SchoolMint to streamline all aspects of student enrollment - student registration management, application, lottery, and school choice management, and digital forms and document uploads. Available online and on mobile devices, SchoolMint integrates with leading student information systems (SIS) and transforms the end-to-end enrollment experience for school staff and parents. Visit http://www.SchoolMint.com to learn more.
News Article | April 25, 2017
Karl Kemp, Director of Sports Operations at the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Sports Administration, hailed StateChamps’ successful debut partnership during last year’s state basketball...(PRWeb April 25, 2017)Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/04/prweb14266697.htm
News Article | May 8, 2017
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sprint (NYSE:S) today unveiled one of its secret plans of densifying the network by adding thousands of network enhancements using some of the most advanced technologies in wireless. Sprint’s toolbox of solutions include Sprint Magic Box, outdoor small cells, High Performance User Equipment (HPUE) and three-channel carrier aggregation in Chicagoland. Along with the network enhancements, Sprint will be adding more than 100 Sprint and Boost Mobile stores in Chicagoland and adding more than 500 new jobs. Bigger, Better Signal and Capacity in Chicagoland than before What do Sprint Magic Box, small cells, three-channel carrier aggregation and HPUE mean for Sprint customers? Just like Sprint’s demonstration last year of the power of three-channel carrier aggregation where Sprint hit peak speeds of 230 Mbps at Soldier Field, customers in Chicagoland may now able to experience those peak speeds themselves with the hottest new devices capable of utilizing these new technologies on capable devices. As for HPUE, this new technology can extend Sprint’s 2.5 GHz coverage by up to 30% to provide faster data speeds in more locations, including indoors where the majority of wireless traffic is generated. For example, Lombard customers will have noticed the significant increase in speeds over the past month, thanks to a combination of these new technologies including Sprint Magic Box. Sprint Magic Box, the world’s first all – wireless small cell, is a revolutionary new plug–and–play LTE small cell for businesses and consumers that dramatically improves data coverage and increases download and upload speeds on average by 200 percent.1 In fact, Sprint is 3x faster than T-Mobile and AT&T and almost double the speed of Verizon in Lombard, according to Sprint’s analysis of Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data from 3/10 – 4/10/2017.2 Data usage of Sprint customers has increased more than 1,254% in the last five years in Chicagoland. “The combination of all of these new technologies will help Sprint densify quicker and it will provide customers an improved experience inside their business and homes while on the Sprint network,” said Scott Santi, Sprint Vice President of Network for Central Area. “We’re extremely excited about the results we’ve already seen in Lombard and nationally, and can’t wait for all customers to experience the new and improved Sprint.” Sprint is continuously increasing its footprint to meet customer demands! Sprint is adding 105 new Sprint and Boost Mobile stores in the city and surrounding suburbs like Schaumburg, Rosemont and Skokie throughout 2017 and 2018. “Every month, we’re gaining on the competition and growing our base of customers, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Jim Mills, Sprint President of Illinois and Wisconsin. “With this significant growth, we knew we had to add more Sprint and Boost Mobile stores for both our postpaid and prepaid customers. Chicagoans are seeing our network and customer care improvements, as well as seeing how Sprint positively impacts the community by giving back and partnering up with nonprofits and Chicago Public Schools.” Chicagoans interested in applying for open positions should visit www.sprint.com/jobs. Sprint, the first wireless carrier to offer unlimited data, talk and text, recently updated the value of its Unlimited Freedom plan offering the best price for unlimited among all national carriers. Unlimited plans from Verizon and AT&T are 50 percent more!3 New Sprint customers will get 4: Sprint (NYSE: S) is a communications services company that creates more and better ways to connect its customers to the things they care about most. Sprint served 59.7 million connections as of March 31, 2017 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; leading no-contract brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Sprint has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America for the past five years. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint. 1 Signal and speeds based on optimal conditions for most Sprint devices. 2 Based on Sprint’s analysis of Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data from 3/10/17 to 4/10/17. 3 Savings compared to advertised unlimited rates for 4 lines as of 4/24/17. Carrier features and international options differ. See carrier sites for details. 4 Savings until 6/30/18; then $60/mo. for line 1, $40/mo. for line 2 and $30/mo. lines 3-5. Includes unlimited talk, text and data. Streams video at up to HD 1080p, music at up to 1.5Mbps, gaming at up to 8Mbps. Data deprioritization during congestion. Pricing shown with $5/month AutoPay discount applied within two invoices. Taxes, surcharges and restrictions apply.
News Article | May 2, 2017
Unlike colleges and universities, there are no national requirements for U.S. elementary and secondary schools to track student sexual assaults. But 32 states and the District of Columbia do maintain information, though it is inconsistent and sometimes incomplete, The Associated Press found. Some states required school districts to log any student sexual assault on school property or at school-sponsored events, but others required reporting of only those assaults resulting in certain types of student discipline. In Michigan, for example, the state counted only expulsions. So one Lansing high school was able to report no sexual assaults in 2015 while AP found a case in which a student was suspended and later charged with criminal sexual conduct. Additionally, some states masked the actual number of student sexual attacks if they fell beneath a certain threshold. Whether and how an incident was recorded — as sexual assault or something less serious — was often left to school districts' discretion. Education officials in a half-dozen states told AP they didn't think their data reflected the full extent of the problem. In addition, some of the nation's largest school districts — including those with student enrollments over 100,000 — reported no rapes or sexual assaults for multiple years, even though AP identified cases through public records or news accounts. In the 18 states with no reporting requirements, cases can go unnoticed, such as the 2010 sexual assault of a girl in a Muncie, Indiana, high school bathroom, which resulted in a boy's guilty plea. AP compared state education agency information from fall 2011 to spring 2015 — across the four academic years for which most reported — counting only the most severe forms of sexual assault, such as rape, sodomy, forced oral sex, penetration with an object or unwanted fondling. For states with no education data, AP looked to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, a database of participating states' crime reports collected by the FBI. AP used the two most recent publicly available years of NIBRS data — 2013 and 2014. By mining those records, the AP was able to uncover about 17,000 official reports of student sex assault — an undercount due to the significant under-reporting and spotty categorization. The state education department received information from school districts and, in some years, schools on incidents of sexual battery by students, including actual or attempted penetration, fondling and child molestation, especially where the victim was unable to give consent. The department reported 43 assaults over the four-year period and said it generally doesn't try to verify the information. The state education department tracked incidents leading to student suspension and expulsion, but not specifically sexual assault. Reporting was voluntary, and schools sometimes coded student sexual assault as "other-type not listed" behavior. Officials said they didn't believe their reported total of three incidents was accurate because Alaska's overall sexual assault rates were three times the national average. "This in no way represents the true extent to which sexual assault incidents lead to a discipline event in our public schools," Brian Laurent, the state's education data manager, told AP. Individual schools reported incidents of student sexual assault, defined as forced intercourse or oral sex. The education department provided an annual statewide total but masked the actual number of attacks annually when there were five or fewer, which applied to three of the four years in question. That made the reported statewide total between four and 20. In response to AP's queries, the state will review "the nature and reliability of the school safety data we collect," education spokesman Charles Tack said. The state education department did not collect information on student sex assaults on school property. State law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System recorded 12 incidents of such assaults on school property for the two-year period. The law enforcement representation in NIBRS covered most of the state's population. The state required every public school to report any offense by a student involving sexual assault or sexual battery, regardless of whether it led to suspension or expulsion. The state defined those offenses broadly to include any forcible oral, anal or vaginal penetration, lewd behavior with someone 15 or younger, and unwanted intimate touching through or under clothes for arousal or gratification. California reported 4,630 such student offenses over the four-year period. The state education agency maintained no student sexual assault records over the four-year period; it began tracking incidents leading to suspension, expulsion or referrals to law enforcement only in the 2015-2016 academic year. But state law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System reported 350 incidents of student sexual assault on school property over the two most recently available years. School districts notified the state education department about incidents of sexual battery, including rape and forced fondling, that led to student suspensions and expulsions. The department masked district-level totals for any given year when there were five or fewer. During AP's four-year study period, the department reported 43 sexual batteries statewide that led to student discipline. The state required schools to report student sex assaults to the state's education department and local law enforcement in real time. State education officials recorded only severe sex assaults, such as rape, in a category called "violent felonies" and said there was no way to distinguish student sex assaults from other offenses. Law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System recorded 70 incidents of student sexual assault on school property during the two most recently available years. The district's education department tracked incidents of school sex assaults by students, relying on the Metropolitan Police Department's determination of whether a reported incident constituted a forcible sexual act. Its four-year reported total was 26. Not included in the tally were charter schools, which serve about 40 percent of the district's students. Schools notified the state's education department annually of all incidents of student sexual battery, defined as attempted or actual penetration and, as of 2015, sexual assault, including threats of rape, fondling, indecent liberties, child molestation or sodomy. The actual number of attacks at an individual school or district was masked when there were fewer than 10 a year. Over the four-year period, the state reported 165 such incidents. Schools reported annually only those incidents of sexual battery that led to suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment or placement in an alternative education program. The education department defined such behavior as unwanted oral, anal or vaginal rape and forcible intimate touching. The state reported 607 such incidents in the four-year period. The state tracked sexual assaults and sexual offenses by students, including acts such as forcible intercourse, oral sex and sexual fondling. It provided annual statewide totals under an official public information request and, over the four-year period, reported 784 such incidents. The state education department kept no specific data on student sex assaults. Officials said such incidents most likely would have been reported as "violence with injury" or "violence without injury." None of the 108 state law enforcement agencies reporting to NIBRS during the two years most recently available used the codes that would denote cases specifically occurring at elementary and secondary schools. The state education department did not collect data on student sex assaults, though Chicago Public Schools kept its own citywide accounting. As of 2014, Illinois had only one law enforcement agency — the Rockford Police Department — participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System, and it recorded seven such incidents during the two years most recently available. The state education department did not collect data on student sex assaults. The state police, the only law enforcement agency participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System, recorded just three incidents during the two years most recently available. The state education department did not track student sex assaults. None of the state's 232 law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System during the two years most recently available used the codes that identify cases at elementary and secondary schools. The state education department did not track student sex assaults. None of the 360 law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System during the two years most recently available used the codes that identify cases at elementary and secondary schools. The state education department tracked only incidents of rape and sexual assault by students that resulted in discipline, such as suspensions or expulsions. It reported 187 incidents of sexual assault over the four-year period, but no rapes. The state education department collected information from school districts on reported student rapes and sexual batteries and said there were 30 such incidents over the four-year period. The department has since stopped collecting that data, citing the expiration of a grant and a state law passed in 2014 that prohibits collection of student information on sexual or illegal behavior unless it is voluntarily disclosed by a parent or guardian. The state education department said it tracked sexual harassment, but not specifically student sexual assaults. None of the 22 state law enforcement agencies that reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System during the two years most recently available used the codes identifying cases at elementary and secondary schools. School districts reported incidents of sexual attacks by students that led to suspension or expulsion. Over the four-year period, the state reported 307 such incidents. The state education department tracked incidents of sexual assault, such as rape and forcible fondling, only when they resulted in student suspensions, expulsions or other discipline. It provided that information online by school name and, over the four-year period, reported 335 such incidents. School districts reported incidents of student sexual assault, such as rape, sodomy or fondling, only when they resulted in expulsions. For the four-year period, the state's Center for Educational Performance and Information reported 54 such cases. The state education department tracked incidents of sexual assault by students but allowed districts to decide how to define that. In responding to AP's queries, officials learned that Minneapolis Public Schools had for years miscoded physical assaults as sexual assaults and vice versa. Officials said the district has since corrected its data and the state reported 441 incidents of sexual assault by students for the four-year period. The state education department tracked incidents of student rape and sexual battery only when they led to suspension, referral to an alternative school or juvenile detention center, or corporal punishment. It masked the total for any given year when the number was 10 or fewer. That applies to rapes for two of the four years in AP's study period. As a result, the state's reported total was between 77 and 93. The state education department did not track sexual assault, though schools could report it when it led to student discipline under a category called "violent incident." Education officials said they had no way to discern the number of student sexual assaults from other violent incidents. State law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System recorded 21 incidents of sexual assault at elementary and secondary schools during the two years most recently available. The state education department tracked incidents of student sexual battery, such as rape, forced fondling or sodomy, only when they resulted in discipline. It masked the total for any given year when the number was five or fewer, which it said occurred in two of the four years in AP's study period, making the state's reported total between 17 and 25. The state education department did not collect information on sex assaults in its schools. However, Nebraska law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System reported 10 incidents of student sexual assault on school property in the period during the two years most recently available. The education department did not track statewide totals on the number of student sex assaults in its elementary and secondary schools, nor did law enforcement agencies participate in the National Incident-Based Reporting System. The state education department collected information on aggravated felonious sex assaults in schools, but cannot distinguish whether the offender was a student. State law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System recorded 16 incidents of student sexual assault on school property during the two years most recently available. School districts reported all incidents of student sexual assault, defined as forced penetration, and other sex offenses, such as forced sexual contact or exposure meant to degrade someone. Individual schools reported twice a year to the state education department. The state conducted some "targeted" verification of the reports, which it said totaled 900 for the four-year period. The state education department tracked all incidents of student sexual battery that resulted in discipline, including such acts as rape, fondling, child molestation or sodomy. It reported a four-year statewide total of 228. The state education department tracked incidents involving three forms of forcible sexual contact by students: sexual penetration, with and without a weapon, and other types of inappropriate sexual contact with a weapon. It provides the number of incidents at each school upon request and reported 147 statewide over four years. Starting in 2017-2018, the state will group all sex incidents into one category. The state required schools to report student incidents of rape, including forced intercourse with an incapacitated person; sexual assault, forced or unwanted contact without penetration; and sexual offense, defined as penetration by an object or intimate touching with the male sex organ. The state education department reported 860 offenses over the four years. The state education department tracked two types of student sex assault: gross sexual imposition-rape, defined as compelling sex by threat of death, injury or kidnapping; and sexual imposition, defined as compelling a sexual act or contact by any threat. The department reported 43 such incidents statewide for the four-year period. The state education department did not collect information on sex assaults in schools. However, state law enforcement did participate in the National Incident-Based Reporting System and reported 293 sex assaults on school property during the two years most recently available. In the 2012-2013 academic year, the state education department began collecting information on student sexual assaults, but reporting was voluntary. From 2012-13 to 2014-15, only one incident was reported statewide. Spokeswoman Steffie Corcoran told AP any reported data was unreliable because it was not "certified." Districts could rely on criminal statutes or guidance from the National Center for Education Statistics, which defines "sexual battery (sexual assault)" as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration forcibly or against the person's will or where the victim is incapable of giving consent. The state education department tracked incidents of student "sexual battery (sexual assault)" only when they led to suspension, expulsion or removal to an alternative educational setting. It defined the offense as forced or unwanted penetration, including rape, fondling and sodomy. It masked totals of five or fewer in any given year, which it did for one of the four years of AP's study, making its reported statewide total between 25 and 29. School districts and charter schools had to report all incidents of student sexual assault, regardless of whether they resulted in discipline. The state required reporting on rape or statutory rape; sexual assault, including attempted rape or unwanted touching of a sex organ; involuntary sexual deviate intercourse; and aggravated indecent assault of someone impaired or younger than 13. It reported a statewide four-year total of 371. School districts reported to the state education department incidents of student sex assault, including forcible sex, fondling, forced kissing and child molestation, only when they resulted in suspension. The department's reported statewide total was 28, but districts had been required to report sex assaults only since the 2012-2013 academic year. The state education department tracked acts of student forcible sex offense only when they resulted in an out-of-school suspension or expulsion. The department reported a statewide total of 47 over four years. The state education department tracked incidents of student sexual battery, including unwanted sexual contact, attempted and statutory rape and child molestation. If any year's total was fewer than 10, the state masked that year's actual numbers. It did so twice over the four-year period so that its reported statewide total was between two and 18. The state education department tracked incidents of student sexual assault, including rape, sodomy, fondling and child molestation. It reported 462 such incidents during the four-year period. The state education agency tracked only incidents of student sexual assault resulting in suspension, expulsion or referral to an alternative education program. Reportable acts included sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault against students or school visitors; indecency with a child or sexual contact with a student 16 or younger; and continuous sexual abuse of a child on school property, including school-related activities off property. The state masked actual counts less than five, which affected the count of continuous sex abuse cases during three of the four years, making its reported four-year total between 630 and 639. The state education department tracked incidents of student sexual assault, including rape, attempted rape or sodomy, and forcible fondling. The state reported 268 for the four-year period. Queries from AP prompted the state to review its reporting system; State Board of Education spokesman Mark Peterson said the board was working to address "discrepancies." The state education department tracked all incidents of student sexual assault on school grounds or at a school-related activity. Education officials declined to share the information, saying it would have been masked anyway because the statewide annual total fell below the 11 or fewer threshold for withholding in each of the four years of AP's study. A January 2015 report by the education secretary put the number of sex assaults leading to student discipline at 11 between 2013 and 2015. School districts had to report all incidents of sexual assault by students, regardless of whether they resulted in discipline. The state education department tracked four forms of sex assault: rape and attempted rape, sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery, and offensive sexual touching. In public reports starting in 2013-2014, actual numbers for any individual offense category were masked if they were fewer than 10. In response to an AP records request, Virginia reported 4,549 sexual assaults for the four-year period. The state education department did not track student sexual assault. Washington law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System recorded 42 incidents during the two years most recently available. The state education department maintained data on incidents that led to student suspension, expulsion and referral to alternative education, but did not specifically track sexual assault. Schools could report student sexual assault as bullying, harassment or intimidation. None of the state's 245 law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System during the two most recent years available used the codes identifying cases at elementary and secondary schools. The state education department did not track student sexual assaults. Wisconsin law enforcement agencies participating in the National Incident-Based Reporting System recorded 68 incidents during the two years most recently available. School districts notified the state education department annually of incidents of student sexual battery, such as attempted or forced penetration or fondling. Wyoming masked statewide annual totals of 10 or fewer and did so three times over the four-year period, making its reported total between 13 and 40. Data collection director Susan Williams told AP, "We don't think it's super clean. Districts define and report incidents differently." Wyoming's education department stopped asking districts to report sex-related incidents in 2016. Schmall and Dunklin reported from Dallas; Sirolly reported from Philadelphia.
News Article | December 13, 2016
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) today announced the results of its 2016 philanthropic commitment to the Chicago community. Over the course of the year, PepsiCo invested almost $1.5 Million and dedicated 5,629 employee volunteer hours to non-profit organizations that serve the Chicagoland community spanning across its philanthropic pillars of community nutrition, youth and active families, culture and civic leadership, and sustainability. Notably, PepsiCo Chicago – home to many of PepsiCo’s nutrition brands, including Quaker Oats, Tropicana and Naked – increased its investment in community nutrition by 20 percent from 2015. A significant part of that investment was with The Kitchen Community to establish a new Entrepreneurship Learning Garden for Prosser Career Academy in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood of Chicago. The Kitchen Community’s Learning Gardens are outdoor classrooms built primarily in underserved schools. The Entrepreneurship program specifically is focused on helping high school students to actively contribute to their communities through the Learning Garden. Also in the nutrition space, PepsiCo partnered with non-profit organization Common Threads to provide the Cooking Skills & World Cuisine Program to three Chicago Public Schools – Chase, Camras and Jenner Elementary Schools. “PepsiCo understands the immense value that volunteerism and philanthropic support have on our Chicago community and residents,” said Lauren Burns, Senior Director of Communications at PepsiCo North America Nutrition. “As part of PepsiCo’s commitment to deliver Performance with Purpose, we have a responsibility to do good and leave a positive imprint in the communities in which we operate.” PepsiCo Chicago achieved another milestone for the year, increasing its employee volunteerism to 5,629 volunteer hours throughout the course of the year. In June 2016, more than 300 PepsiCo employees volunteered at Madison and Avalon Elementary schools for Chicago Cares’ Serve-a-thon. “PepsiCo has been one of our longest standing corporate partners, with donations and support that help us connect organizations in need with dedicated volunteers in the community,” said Jenné Myers, CEO of Chicago Cares. “PepsiCo’s involvement in Chicago Cares has led to more than 27,000 volunteer hours logged over the last 22 years of our partnership.” Chicago non-profit organizations served by PepsiCo in 2016 include, but are not limited to, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Chicago Cares, Chicago Food Depository, Plant Chicago, Common Threads, Feed the Children, Friends of the Chicago River, Girls in the Game, Goodman Theatre, Rauner YMCA, Step Up, The Kitchen Community, Top Box Foods, The Chosen Few and The Executives’ Club of Chicago. PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $63 billion in net revenue in 2015, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world is what enables PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com.
News Article | November 3, 2016
The Surge Institute, founded in 2014 in Chicago in response to a dearth of diverse leadership at the decision-making tables within education, takes another step forward in addressing the issues of race and class in urban education by hiring a Chicago Executive Director and new Vice President of National Programs. Tamara Prather will join the leadership team on November 18, 2016, as the Chicago Executive Director. Tamara brings to bear over 17 years of combined experience in the education and private sectors, at corporate bodies as diverse as GE Capital, Kraft Foods, Chicago Public Schools and A Better Chicago. Her addition means added focus on brand building and strategy in Chicago, and will allow Surge Founder and President Carmita Semaan to address the broader needs for Surge nationally. Rito Martinez succeeds Erica Harris, the organization’s founding Vice President of Programs, in a new national programs role — setting the expanded vision and direction for the content of the Surge Fellowship as well as the design of the Fellowship’s core curriculum. Martinez was an award-winning teacher and founding principal of Social Justice High School before he transitioned into adult learning, leadership development and executive coaching, which has informed his work for the past half decade. He began with the team in early October 2016. “As the founding VP of Programs, Erica Harris’s design of the Surge Fellowship created a powerful legacy upon which Rito is well-poised to build," stated Carmita Semaan. Both Prather and Martinez have personal connections to The Surge Institute’s mission. "I have followed the work of Surge and continue to be inspired by the passion and sense of purpose of the organization and the significant progress being made. I am honored to lead the organization through this exciting next phase of growth and impact in Chicago," said Prather. "For black and brown leaders it is imperative that one examine issues of identity, race and ethnicity as a means of understanding both our strengths and areas of development. This vision of The Surge Fellowship resonates with my core," shares Martinez. Semaan is very pleased with the expanding team, which also includes Program and Development Coordinator Sandra Rush and Executive Assistant Maurae Gilbert McCants. "The impact of our fellows and alums has been tremendous in youth-serving organizations across Chicago, and Surge receives local and national recognition for our work in preparing, supporting, connecting and elevating these emerging leaders of color. We will continue to respond to demand as the need for diverse and connected leaders is great. This growth requires discipline and a commitment to continuous improvement — two of the foundational values of our organization. Our team will continue to Surge forward with these commitments to our community." The Surge Institute broadly addresses issues of race and class in urban education through leadership development, technical assistance and advocacy. The Surge Fellowship develops high-potential talent within education to create the pipeline of influential education leaders of color. This network transforms status quo systems and approaches in education by sharing ownership of the change efforts, engaging communities in defining and working toward success, serving as role models for young people to pursue roles with influence and risk, and accessing financial capital and power brokers to develop new solutions. Learn more about how you can #LeadTheSurge at SurgeInstitute.org.
News Article | February 24, 2017
FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2017 file photo, a boy joins others participating in a protest and marching aimed at President Donald Trump's nationwide efforts to crack down on immigration in Chicago. As Trump moves ahead with an immigration crackdown, school principals in Chicago have been given a simple order: Do not let federal immigration agents in without a criminal warrant. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast File) CHICAGO (AP) — As educators around the United States wonder whether a crackdown on immigrants will reach their schoolhouse doors, principals in Chicago have been given a simple order: Do not let federal immigration agents in without a criminal warrant. The stand taken by Chicago Public Schools, the country's third-largest school system, is among the boldest of the districts that have announced measures to protect those who may be living in the country illegally. It remains unknown how much interest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will show in schools under President Donald Trump, and there is little schools can do to thwart agents who show up with warrants, but they are acting at least in part to ease concerns of skittish immigrant communities. In districts like Chicago, where nearly half of the 381,000 students are Hispanic, there is concern that immigration authorities could grab parents outside the schools and their children inside. "My 9-year-old son gets upset because he knows some of his friends in school and his father are undocumented and he is scared, and asks 'Am I going to see them again,'" said Gabriela Barajas, who was brought to this country illegally as a child but is allowed to stay as part of a federal program launched in 2012. "When I told him about (what CPS was doing) he was clapping, he was so happy." Alma Sigala, an immigrant who has a daughter in district, said the relief is not just for the children but for the parents. "Once the parents are inside the schools they'll feel more secure, that in some form they are protected," said Sigala. Trump's decision to target more people for deportation than had been targeted during the Obama administration has ratcheted up worries about families being torn apart all over the country. In the note Tuesday to Chicago's principals, Public Schools Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson urged them to not only keep immigration agents outside and to avoid sharing any student records with the agents, but to also put plans in place for the possibility of parents being detained while their children are in school. "To be very clear, CPS does not provide assistance to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law," Jackson wrote. Principals around the country have been stepping up efforts to make students feel supported, said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In Syracuse, New York, the school board approved a policy this month requiring schools to deny access to ICE officials until they consult with the superintendent. In Salt Lake City, Utah, on Tuesday the school district discussed a resolution. Connecticut's governor on Wednesday advised school districts in that state to refer any ICE agents to the superintendent. And in New York City, principals there have been told that immigration officers many not be granted access without legal authority. The latest Trump administration guidance leaves in place Obama-era policies limiting enforcement actions at "sensitive locations," including schools. While those policies say agents should generally avoid apprehending anyone inside those designated areas, they do not stop agents from obtaining records or serving subpoenas. Jim Bever, an Indiana principal on the board of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said he would try to discourage immigration officials from accessing students and records, but school administrators around the country are "a bit in the dark" and any agents would likely see a wide range of responses. Some experts say it's unlikely administrators will be tested. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., which supports tighter immigration policies, said schools do not seem to have reason for alarm and Chicago Public Schools and others implementing similar policies mostly appear to be "showing off." Among those prioritized for arrest under the new guidelines are immigrants who abuse public benefits, which Krikorian said could include free and reduced school lunches. "It could well affect them, but again that has nothing to do with the school grounds," he said. "It's not like ICE goes in there and says, 'Drop that tater tot, kid.'" Thompson reported from Buffalo, N.Y. Associated Press writers Collin Binkley in Boston and Hugh Dellios in Chicago contributed to this report.