Monday, December 6, 2010

Schools CEO Paul Vallas asked about his 10-year association, promotion of the Save-A-Life Foundation and the IL Attorney General's investigation

Public Service Announcement by Paul Vallas claiming "the Save-A-Life Foundation has trained over 400,000 Illinois children and adults in the lifesaving skills of first aid, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver and they can train you."

"Your organization is an excellent example of how involvement in education can truly make a difference. Our students and teachers have been and will continue to be the recipients of the benefits of that involvement which includes exposure to new technology and AED training. On behalf of the students and teachers of the Chicago Public Schools, and the people whose lives they may help to save, I again thank you. We look forward to continuing this exceptional partnership. PS I love receiving all the thank you letters from children SALF trains." - Paul G. Vallas, CEO, Chicago Public Schools (source) 

"In 1997 I brought SALF to the children of the Chicago Public School system to teach Life Supporting First Aid, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and the results were positive beyond expectations. I look forward to working with you and SALF to bring this empowering program to the Commonwealth and I am happy to assist in any way I can." - Paul G. Vallas, CEO, Philadelphia Schools, August 12, 2003 (source)

Paul Vallas's approval of Save-A-Life program touted to Philadelphia Schools by SALF, four months after ABC7 Chicago exposed SALF frauds (page down); note bogus training claims.
Paul Vallas approval of Save-A-Life touted to Philly by SALF, bogus training numbers, 3/16/07

The following letter was e-mailed to and faxed to (504)309-3647. Also see Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico asked about Save-A-Life Foundation investigation(s).

December 6, 2010

Paul Vallas
New Orleans Recovery School District
1641 Poland Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70117

Dear Mr. Vallas,

I’m reporting about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a Chicago-area nonprofit reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General. In November 2006, ABC7 Chicago reported a variety of false claims associated with the organization and its founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri. Since then, dozens of media reports have raised additional related concerns, such as a San Diego newspaper article last month that reported Ms. Spizzirri’s criminal record.

Since you promoted the organization when you were CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and later when you were CEO of the School District of Philadelphia, I’d appreciate your answers to some quick questions.


On May 26, 1999, you and Chicago Schools president Gery Chico signed a Chicago School Board resolution stating, “(The Save-A-Life) foundation has trained 35,000 statement (sic) in 1998, including 10,000 Chicago children.”

However, in response to a federal subpoena and FOIA requests, the Chicago Public Schools’ entire records re: SALF apparently consist of 22 invoices dating from 2000-2007 indicating that at best a few hundred people may have received training.

In a Public Service Announcement you recorded for SALF after you left the Chicago Schools, you stated that the “Save-A-Life Foundation has trained over 400,000 Illinois children and adults in the lifesaving skills of first aid, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver.”

Diligent attempts to verify SALF’s training records indicate that at best hundreds of people in Illinois ever received any training. 

1. In the 1999 resolution you signed and for your PSA promoting the foundation, did you verify the numbers of students you claimed were trained or did you simply repeat information provided to you by SALF?

2. Have you or has anyone you know been contacted by anyone connected with the IL Attorney General’s investigation of SALF? If so, please provide details.

The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) awarded $3.33 million in federal grants to SALF. In financial reports submitted to the CDC, SALF stated that the money was used to provide first aid training classes to thousands of Chicago Public School (CPS) students. Last year, SALF’s founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri told the Chicago Tribune that her organization trained hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Chicago Schools students. Here’s a list of hundreds of Chicago schools in which SALF allegedly provided the training. (The list also highlights Chicago schools at which SALF allegedly trained thousands of students in a program funded by Ronald McDonald House Charities.)

However, as I explained, CPS’s entire records indicate that at best a few hundred people may have received training.

As described in a Bagwell for Congress press release last month, a public letter was sent by Tim Bagwell to the Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) requesting an investigation to determine if the CDC millions were properly administered.

3. Do you think that the HHS Inspector General should pursue such an investigation?

At a 1999 Chicago School Board meeting, in response to a question by your associate Gery Chico asking how much her organization’s first aid training program costs, Ms. Spizzirri stated, "It's at 75 cents a child. Except it's a dollar for the instructor." The 22 invoices show CPS paid SALF about $62,000 from 2000-2007. Again, however, CPS records indicate that at best a few hundred people may have received training.

4. Do you think that CPS Inspector General James M. Sullivan should pursue an investigation to determine if the $62,000 in public funds paid by CPS to SALF was properly administered?

Please feel free to add any related comments of any length. Thanks for your consideration and I look forward to receiving your answers.


Lee Cary
Writer, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, the American Thinker


Siona LaFrance, Director-Communications/Media, New Orleans Recovery School District
Gery Chico, Chico & Nunes P.C.
Tim Bagwell
Paul Vallas, Gery Chico sign 1999 resolution with dubious Save-A-Life Foundation training claims

(7:35) Gery Chico: "How many schools have you said that you've been in with this program?"
Carol J. Spizzirri: "I think we've been in a dozen we've completed."
Chico: "What's it cost?"
Spizzirri: "It's at 75 cents a child. Except it's a dollar for the instructor." 
(9:00) Chico: "I don't think we can afford to do anything but do this (SALF program)."

Paul Vallas & Gery Chico hype Chico's mayoral campaign, Fox News Chicago, November 25, 2010

 Lee's questions to Schools CEO Paul Vallas about the Save-A-Life Foundation, 12/6/10 - NO REPLY