Feds charge Detroit school principals with bribery

Detroit Public Schools is good at bribing: They bribed their students to show up — with a pair of Nikes to boost the number of attendance for Count Day, which in turn determines how much state funding the school gets. Too bad it’s not helping the students: For a fourth straight time, Detroit students scored the lowest among big-city districts in math and reading, in 2015.
From The Detroit News: Fourteen people were charged Tuesday in a nearly $1 million bribery and kickback case as part of a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation of Detroit Public Schools.
One of the seven current principals charged, Ronald Alexander, 60, of Detroit, principal of Spain Elementary, accepted a $500,000 donation from the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” in February for technology updates, campus renovations and additional staff funding.
The results of the two-year case against five former principals, seven district employees, an assistant superintendent and one vendor was announced by the U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
According to court records, the current and former principals took bribes and kickback money from school vendor Norman Shy, who owned Allstate Sales, a supplier of school supplies such as chairs, raised-line paper and teaching materials. Prosecutors allege Shy, 74, of Franklin devised and engaged in a scheme to illegally obtain money from the district by agreeing to pay 13 principals $908,518 in kickbacks.
They say Clara Flowers, 67, of Southfield, current assistant superintendent and former principal of Henderson Academy, had the duty of selecting vendors and ordering school supplies. Authorities say she conspired with Shy to submit fraudulent invoices for payment to Shy for goods that were never delivered.
Shy and his company received about $5 million in payments from DPS, of that $2.7 million were fraudulent, McQuade said.
DPS school board vice president Ida Short, who attended McQuade’s press conference, said a lack of oversight in the district allowed a conspiracy such as this to happen. Before the state took over the district, school board members were required to approve contracts, Short said.
“We have a czar over the district. …We would ordinarily not have principals approving this level of contract. It’s too much money. It’s too easy for people to get greedy as you see,” Short said. “We want to have the rights of every district in the state — to have an elected school board.”
Steven Rhodes, emergency manager for DPS, said Tuesday the district has suspended business with Shy and all of his companies. He added the district has changed policies to prevent fraud.
“I cannot overstate the outrage that I feel about the conduct that these DPS employees engaged in that led to these charges,” Rhodes said. “And I am sure that this sense of outrage is shared by the other dedicated and committed DPS employees, as well as DPS parents and everyone who is interested in the future success of DPS.”
McQuade said her office received a tip from the state of Michigan after it performed an audit at the Education Achievement Authority that raised several red flags. After her office investigated the EAA and a federal grand jury indicted three people there on criminal charges, McQuade said they next learned about Shy. The principals charged in the case were not working with each other, McQuade said, and did not know others were participating in the fraud.
She said the decision to file charges in the case has nothing to do with “DPS or the emergency manager.”
“It’s about these 14 people who breached the public trust. The real victims are students and families who attend Detroit Public Schools. … This case is a real punch in the gut for those who do the right thing,” McQuade said.
Each of the 14 defendants faces up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on charges of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. Shy and Flowers face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $100,000 on the tax evasion charges.
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Dr. Eowyn
Dr. Eowyn
4 years ago

The Detroit school officials must have taken a lesson from the equally corrupt school teachers & officials of Atlanta, GA. Dr. Martin Luther King must be turning in his grave.

4 years ago

I am sure he is!