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Was CPS email a little ‘naughty’? Link sends parents to sex site

An incorrect link an email from CPS CEO BarbarByrd-Bennett sent parents this page site.

An incorrect link on an email from CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent parents to this page on the site.

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:31AM

What a difference a letter makes.

A link to an erotic web site found its way into an email message to parents of Chicago Public Schools children from the schools chief about standardized test scores, the Sun-Times has learned.

An errant “L” at the end of a link in the email obtained by the Sun-Times made all the difference. Instead of routing parents to the web site of the Illinois State Board of Education, the site featured at the bottom of Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s letter about test score changes features a cheeky error message and a sketch of a woman touching her lips: “Oops, someone has been naughty. But we’ll take care of her, we promise. Click here to go back.”

On Thursday afternoon, the home site of, “a private invite-only space for women over 18,” showed a photo of an open Kama Sutra on a rumpled bed.

The site is still under construction and requires an invitation. “Isbel for men is coming,” the login instructs. “Isbel is a ladies-only affair for the express purpose of inspiring openness and honesty among the women of our community.”

The site’s “About us” page describes it as using “a ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach to uncovering truths & inspirations about sex, from women for women.” Members have access to weekly sex talks and inspirations where you can “rouse your desire.”

“No secrets here,” it promises.

CPS sent its email to parents about 5:45 p.m. Another message quickly followed at 8:02 p.m. instructing parents to use the corrected links to ISBE.

“Apologies for the inconvenience!” it reads.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the typo was accidental. “As soon as it was brought to our attention we sent out an letter with a corrected link, and apologized for any inconvenience it may have caused.” One CPS parent informed her of the mistake; only one other parent called CPS asking if the link were a hoax, she said.

On Twitter Wednesday night, @19thWardParents asked Carroll about the link, which prompted the following response from the folks at Isbel on Thursday: “We woke up this morning to hundreds of parents coming to our site! Happy to help illuminate your cause :)”

Isbel founder and CEO Dominique Gagnon said she had just begun testing the site about a week ago with just 100 women.

So the surge of about 300 hits Wednesday night was “quite surprising” and “dramatic.”

Based on Wednesday night’s hits, “we did have quite a few new invite requests this morning!” Gagnon said.

“We couldn’t figure out why everyone in Illinois was being sent to what is an error page,” she said Thursday. “I hope the parents were not too surprised.”

As for the “naughty” page parents were sent to from the CPS email, she said, “We were trying to have fun with our error page.”

Byrd-Bennett’s message intended to notify parents of state changes to the Illinois Standards Achievement Test or ISAT, whose standards for scores will be raised this year, and to brace them for the new results.

“What does this mean for your child?” Byrd-Bennett wrote. “By raising the bar on the ISAT, it is likely that scores for students may decrease. In many cases, some students who previously met or exceeded standards on the ISAT will instead show the need for improvement.

“However, even if scores do drop for your child, it does not mean they know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years. ISBE is simply raising the bar on the ISAT in order to align it more closely with standards that better indicate if students are on a path for college and career-readiness.”

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