Stopping School Fraud
By Charles K. Trainor
Recently, unethical behavior by top leaders has been in the spotlight worldwide. In August, Afghanistan’s chief prosecutor, who was responsible for rooting out corruption, was fired. International observers believe the country’s leadership did not want the prosecutor to initiate fraud-related charges against 25 members of the Afghan administration.
At home, the chief executive officer of a major U.S. corporation was forced to resign his multimillion dollar position following accusations that he submitted inaccurate expense reports. And the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee investigated two members -- one from New York, the other from California -- for questionable behavior.
Unfortunately, school districts are encountering similar problems. For example, in August, Georgia’s governor appointed a special investigator to review the testing records of Atlanta’s public schools because of suspected administrative cheating on student test scores. In July, a Minneapolis charter school’s former executive director pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft by swindle. The crime totaled more than $1 million, which was spent on houses, cars, and strip clubs. The school was forced to close.
Last January, the former superintendent in Clyde-Green Springs, Ohio, was sentenced to eight years in prison and required to make $400,000 in restitution payments after he pleaded guilty to 10 felony counts, including theft in office, filing false or fraudulent tax returns, tampering with records, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. According to prosecutors, the superintendent created fake companies, stole money from student booster clubs, and made unauthorized purchases.
Even school board members have been dishonest. In June, a Broward County, Fla., board member pleaded guilty to one charge of bribery and was sentenced to more than three years in prison on a corruption charge. A sting operation caught the board member taking cash bribes from FBI undercover agents acting as contractors trying to secure construction projects.
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