UNO Charter Schools

Weeks after Federico “Fred” d’Escoto stepped down from the board of the United Neighborhood Organization, his company, d’Escoto Inc., got its first check from the influential charter-school operator toward what now totals more than $1.8 million in state-funded payments.

But d’Escoto Inc.’s ties to UNO — part of a pattern of insider hiring now under scrutiny by state authorities — date back years before that, internal documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

The private, not-for-profit organization already had been using d’Escoto’s Chicago construction-management company for three years to do rehabilitation work on its largely taxpayer-funded charter schools, the records show.

And it did so even as d’Escoto was a member of UNO’s board and while his brother Miguel d’Escoto was both a top executive at UNO and a member of d’Escoto Inc.’s board, state and city government documents show...

“New schools meet old school cronyism ...” Chicago Tribune (IL), 2/22/2013

... The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that much of a $98 million state grant given to UNO to build schools was funneled to companies that have deep connections to the organization's political allies and a top UNO executive, Miguel d'Escoto. Shortly after the story broke, d'Escoto resigned.

D'Escoto Inc., a company owned by Miguel d'Escoto's brother Federico, reaped more than $1.5 million for work as the "owner's representative" in the construction of several schools.

Reflection Window Co., owned by another d'Escoto brother, Rodrigo, stands to earn nearly $10 million for work on several schools.

Plumbing contracts went to a company owned by the sister of Victor Reyes, the clout-heavy lawyer and lobbyist who helped UNO snag the state grant.

UNO hired Aguila Security, a firm run by two brothers of state Rep. Edward Acevedo, a longtime UNO ally who voted to approve the UNO grant in 2009...

At first, UNO chief executive Juan Rangel defended the contracts, saying he hired Hispanic-owned companies that "have proven themselves."

In recent days Rangel has acknowledged his organization has a serious problem. He has suspended UNO's contract with d'Escoto Inc., while UNO reviews its contracting practices. He has brought on former U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen to review how UNO picked companies to build its schools. He accepted the resignation of Miguel d'Escoto...


Ald. Danny Solis (25th) — a co-founder and former head of the United Neighborhood Organization — said Wednesday he thinks it was “improper, at the very least,” for the politically influential organization to use a $98 million state school grant to hire contractors with close ties to the leadership of UNO’s charter-school network.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that UNO’s insider deals included giving contracts paid for by the state grant to companies owned by two brothers of Miguel d’Escoto, the group’s No. 2 executive until he resigned Tuesday from his $200,000-a-year post as senior vice president of operations in the fallout from that revelation...


Built in 2011 with $25 million from Illinois taxpayers, the curvy, stainless-steel structure that houses the UNO Soccer Academy Elementary Charter School leaps out from the neighboring landscape of boxy brick houses on the Southwest Side.

The school on South Homan Avenue isn’t just eye-catching. It has provided opportunities for working-class, Hispanic parents who want an alternative to crowded, poorly performing public schools for their children, says the head of the United Neighborhood Organization, the increasingly influential group that built and operates the school.

But the way it and other UNO schools were built also has provided a financial boon to people close to the group’s leaders, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No wonder UNO teachers just organized into a union.