News Summaries on School Board Scandals

June 8, 2012

News Summaries on School Board Scandals

1. “Leasing ends up costing millions” – Gwinnett County, AJC on June 12, 2011

In June of 2011, the AJC continued their reports on Gwinnett County’s school board. They found that the county paid $12.5 million in November of 2004 for their new headquarters, which was double the amount of money the owner had paid for it a year prior. The board then sold the property for $17 million to allow the former manufacturing plant to be renovated, although Gwinnett decided to lease the property for $300,000 per month while this was taking place. In the deal, Gwinnett agreed that they would buy back the property in 2013, and even pay for all of the renovations that had occurred after they sold the property, which totaled $26.9 million. Essentially, the school board paid $73 million for a project, when it could have been completed for just $39.4 million, which is the cost of the property and renovation of the building. Therefore the Gwinnett school board could have saved $34 million if they had held onto their property and completed the renovations on their own.

2. “Former DeKalb schools chief, three others indicted” – AJC on May 27, 2010

In 2010, the AJC reported on the indictment of the DeKalb School Superintendent Crawford Lewis on the charges of racketeering, bribery, and theft by a government employee. The report says that more than $80 million in contracts were given out by Lewis to companies associated with DeKalb’s Chief Operating Officer Patricia Reid and her then-husband Tony Pope, who is an architect. In exchange for the contracts, Lewis received cash, $35,000 in sports tickets, and other perks which were given to him through his secretary Cointa Moody. The report does not give an exact figure on the amount of taxpayer money that was lost in these transactions but does recognize that at least $2 million in profit was made by members associated with the DeKalb School Board.

3. “Land flips sting taxpayers” – Gwinnett County, AJC on March 6, 2011

In an investigative report by the AJC, Gwinnett County was found to have overpaid on contracts by around $23 million between 2004 and 2008. The Gwinnett School Board agreed to buy land from 4 different developers, who had all purchased their respective land on the same day as they sold it to the county. Two of the developers made $1 million by selling land that they had bought the same day to the Gwinnett school district. Another two developers made $840,000 and $340,000 by selling land to the school district the same day they bought it. The report notes that the developers who profited the most from these transactions were David Bowen and David Jenkins, who were both prominent and politically connected. Those two developers had also been involved in past land deals that were investigated by a Grand Jury.

4. “Atlanta fires first teacher in cheating scandal” – APS, AJC on March 14, 2012

After four years of cheating in the Atlanta Public School System, the first teacher was fired from the scandal. This follows up the state investigation and the 400 page report that was published in 2011. The AJC’s article notes that APS is still paying $1 million a month to about 110 teachers who have been accused and put on administrative leave. Only 11 educators have had formal steps taken to fire them, and 4 of those educators resigned in order to avoid formal hearings. Damany Lewis was the first teacher fired, but 180 other educators have been named in the investigation. The investigation also noted that the cheating took place at 44 different schools and was helped by some of the district’s top officials. The article concludes by mentioning that Lewis was given immunity to criminal charges, but that the other educators who were involved still could face criminal charges when their cases came up.