Monday, May 31, 2010

With leaders like these . . .


In an article titled, Former DeKalb schools chief, three others indicted, the AJC shared the charges listed in the District Attorney's indictment in the past week. Below is a sampling from the article:

A grand jury returned indictments on Lewis, Reid, also known as Pat Pope, her former husband Tony Pope and her secretary Cointa Moody.

“It’s hard for us to assess the full dollar amount, but Tony Pope made over $2 million,” Fleming said. “More than $80 million in contracts were all obtained through some type of fraud.”

Much of that money went to construction companies where Reid and Pope had connections, but no one from those firms were charged.

All four were either arrested by or turned themselves into sheriff’s deputies by Wednesday evening.

Lewis was booked into the DeKalb jail just before 8 p.m. Wednesday and was released on $200,000 bond about 90 minutes later.

Reid and Pope remained jailed Thursday morning, with bond set at $1 million each, according to jail records. Moody was being held Thursday on $200,000 bond.

The indictment includes the following:

Four counts of violating the racketeer influenced and corruption act against Lewis, Reid, Pope and Moody.

One count of theft by a government employee against Lewis, Reid and Moody.

One count of bribery against Lewis and Reid.

One count of falsifying public documents against Reid.

Lewis, 56, faces a maximum of 105 years in prison.

Reid, 52, faces up to 115 years in prison, investigators said. . . .

According to investigators, the scheme had begun in 2006 and involved the three school officials concealing information from the school board, altering documents and giving work to Pope’s architectural firm.

“All of the parties used their positions and the resources of school system to facilitate theft, fraud and obstruction, whether for personal gain or for the benefit of others,” Fleming said. “The money received by Tony Pope was then funneled to Pat Pope.” . . .

When she was hired, the couple was told he could complete one on-going school construction contract but could not work on any additional school projects, Fleming said.

But Lewis and Reid ignored that stipulation, the indictment alleges. The two, along with secretary Moody, 48, conspired to get Pope contracts. This was accomplished by issuing illegal change orders, altering construction projects and leaking information to Pope, all behind the school board’s back, Fleming said.

Those projects included work on Columbia High School, Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, Arabia Mountain High School and the Mountain Industrial Complex.

For the Arabia Mountain project, Reid forged the signatures of several members of a bid selection committee to steer the work to her husband, Fleming said.

Pope also collected money by working as a subcontractor for the McNair project, investigators said. . . .

For a tally on the amount of money possibly redirected to Pope Architects check out this article -

DeKalb indictments box

Wednesday's indictments charged Tony Pope with fraudulently taking money from four school building projects in the DeKalb County school system. How much did each project bring him?

Columbia High: $1.122 million

McNair: $193,217

Mountain Industrial: $1.075 million


Total: $2.391 million

All of the accused are claiming innocence.

===

Now - we have the following issues that need to be addressed by the board and the interim superintendent WHILE these indictments continue and a possible trial goes forth, creating enormous diversion:

  • Redistricting - will it happen? Will the board implement a plan for 2010 or 2011?
  • Block Scheduling vs 7 Period Days - will the board save money by eliminating the block?
  • Magnet costs and the associated transportation costs - will the board continue to pay for magnet transportation?
  • Will the board conduct an audit of the entire system's pay structure and job descriptions?
  • And the biggest question of the day - will SACS threaten to take DCSS's accreditation and if so, will the governor step in as the new law allows?

Governor Sonny Perdue today signed into law Senate Bill 84, landmark school board governance legislation.

SB 84 gives the state the ability to step in when a local school system’s accreditation is threatened. This bill strikes the appropriate balance between local control and state intervention when a system is in crisis,” said Gov. Perdue. “I want to thank my floor leaders, Rep. Jim Cole and Sen. Bill Heath, as well as our Education Committee Chairs, Rep. Brooks Coleman and Sen. Dan Weber for their hard work and leadership on this issue over the past two sessions.”

The legislation standardizes board ethics policies and board training, clarifies the law delineating the roles and responsibilities of superintendents and board members, creates minimum qualifications for board candidates, and gives the state the ability to find responsible citizens to serve on school boards when existing members fail to serve the interests of their students.


===

Download the indictment here:
Crawford Lewis DeKalb RICO Indictment

See also:

Are we gearing up for a trial yet?

92 comments:

Anonymous said...

DeKalb has so many great kids. What kind of example does this set for them? What was the BOE thinking as they approved every expense Lewis proposed?

The Central Office desperately needs to be right sized as well as MIS and all of the other support centers.

I feel so sorry for the Title 1 schools as their money has been funneled into high priced non-teaching personnel and expensive and ineffective learning programs. And all the students in all the schools will now be packed like rats into classrooms all over the county. What a sad day for all of our children.

Anonymous said...

Indeed it is a sad day! However, DCSS must move forward. Bowen's statement the other day has this BOE sticking their head in the sand. Next to the next there is a sign that says, We hope the end is near!

Mr. Bowen the end IS near, for 5 of you that currently sit on the BOE.
I will vote for a BOE that...

-Fires all existing Upper management. ie; Tyson, Moseley, Mitchell, Thompson, Ramsey, both Guilroy's.

-Runs another audit on Central Staff pay, all out in the open!

-Evaluate every non-classroom employee with a salary over 85K.

-The guts enough to re-draw all lines over the entire county! Yes, Dunwoody that includes you to.

-Sell or lease abandoned property.

-Actually DO what you say you're going to DO!

We must start over NOW! The time is now for making our schools great! If the same staff stays in place, I guarantee you there will something down the line that will cost us more than doing it RIGHT NOW!

Come on BOE, do the right thing. Ask for the leaderships resignations so you can begin making the tough decisions in rebuilding the DCSS.

Anonymous said...

I would change on the list above, evaluate every non-school house employee (regardless of salary). (School house employees are all evaluated).

Unfortunately, in GA and per SACs requirements, the school board can only hire/fire the superintendent in terms of personnel.

However, they can set salaries, and that is where I think we should start. We must not only right size the central office, but also the salaries.

Unfortunately, they were all given contracts for the next year, so this change will have to made now for the following year.

These salary changes may be significant, because as many have reported we have positions being paid much more $$$$ than the same position would earn in the private sector. (As an aside, there are a few positions, like speech therapists, where school systems across the country are having to pay more because there is a shortage and the workload in a school is much much higher than the private sector. However, there are very few positions like these and STs at least work with children.)

Anonymous said...

@6:06am, the school board actually hires all employees in the district, based upon the recommendation of the superintendent.

The super recommends each employee to be hired and then the board votes yea or nay. It is important to note that the board cannot make the recommendation to hire someone, only the super has that authority.

At a point each year the super presents the board a listing of all employees he/she wants on staff the following year and a vote is made. The board does have the authority to vote "no" on any individual(s) who's name appears on that list. More often they just bless the list in its entirety as it is likely they weighed in their opinions prior to the list being put together in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Stylin' photos. Where can I get one of those gray mock turtlenecks that seem to be all-the-rage in the DCSS administration?!

C?Y!

Beyond Outrageous said...

To think that many of our children attended schools where rain water poured through leaking roofs, air conditioning did not work, restrooms were condemned and teachers were underpaid while Crawford Lewis and company stole money for their personal use (and the Board of Education did nothing to stop them) . . . .

It's beyond outrageous.

Anonymous said...

We can't wait a year to clean this mess up. That's why we need the Governor to step up and take over the district.

The BOE is incompetent, nothing has been done since the indictments rained down. The BOE knew they were coming, so why not have a better response? Because the DCSS BOE is incompetent! We need leadership! Every contract written up by the former super and the current CLew lackey "Super" should be null and void, since we are just now finding out how deep this fraud goes.

There are too many people hooked up to CLew-less and every single one of them need to have an immediate review. Folks, we must scream and continue to scream until something happens.. Right now the status quo should be unacceptable.

I love how the press conference the other day took place in the old building and not at the new "PALACE" on Mtn. Industrial.

I think every news van needs to park outside the new facility and record video of every car that goes into that new facility. The parents and taxpayers of Dekalb need to protest until something substantial has happened.

I swear these idiots think if they keep quiet nothing else will happen and they can continue the fraud they began. Until I see wholesale resignations by everyone involved in the old reign of terror of CLew-less, I will personally not shut up.

We must organize and please let's not involve the edukalb folks. They are the ones that created this mess in the first place! The Chamber of Commerce knew we had a moron at the helm in clew. They spent thousands of dollars trying to have him mentored by corporate executives and the like. I guess Clew never learned.

Time for change folks and he louder we are the faster it will happen.

Fire the DCSS BoE said...

@ Anon at 10:16am

I agree with you totally and completely.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in this county of clowns, I'm sickened by all this! We go to work daily doing everything we can to make sure children are treated fairly, educated to the best of our abilities, and hoping we impart some character education in along the way. How can one expect teachers to do the tasks they have been given when the people who are supposed to be setting the example are doing things to undermine the very things they ask us to do?? Parents, we need you now more than ever!! Please stand up and demand the board of education do something today, not tomorrow about this three-ringed circus they've been running!! Teachers cannot do it alone! Please help us get back to what schools are supposed to be about... EDUCATING children ... not robbing the taxpayers and children!!

Anonymous said...

There is obviously a leak in the DAs office. How could one explain how WSBTV was able to ask CLew in his car about the indictment before it was presented?

It was reported on WSBTV on Monday night that SACS may get involved. If DCSS comes close to being put on probation and possibly impacting innocent children and their ability to continue their education, all hell will break loose. This could help make all the BOE members short timers....

Anonymous said...

Cere - CLOSE THIS POST TOO!

These four individuals are innocent until proven guilty. (And the Board has not been charged with any crime.) Yet all these posts make personal attacks on individuals who are either innocent or unindicted.

I think you should close this thread to comments, too. Just post the news reports but do not allow people to express their opinions.

Just Sayin' said...

I find it troubling that you'd stop comments critical of a white board member but allow comments of these four african americans. What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

I like your list of needs. Especially a full-county redistricting plan that includes every school. We have three elementary schools in this district that are significantly over crowded and need relief. DCSS has a habit of leaving out schools from these plans when they think that the local community will complain. As hard as it is, enrollment balancing should help us secure more funding from the state and might keep some neighborhood school open.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon at 11:04.

If you're going to protect Jim Redovian from people posting their opinions, you should protect the rest of the Board of Education, Central Office employees and the four criminal defendants as well.

Otherwise, it appears you have an unfair agenda.

Teacher in DCSS said...

Of the four individuals, only one is a "leader"--Dr. Lewis. No one in DCSS looked at Ms. Reid as a leader; Ms. Moody was an admin assistant, and Tony Pope wasn't even an employee of the County. In our system, people are innocent until proven guilty, and, teachers who visit this blog, don't despair about the model it presents to kids, use these events, instead, as a lesson about how well our system works when confronted with possible wrongdoing.

What better lesson than that "even the mighty can fall" or "always stay true to your values", or some such? Having officials show their clay feet isn't a bad lesson: in fact, it shows that our system CAN work.

It's up to us, now, to use that system smartly and to the utmost to restore fairness and "justice" to DCSS. Let's not waste time deploring the actions of these people: they may have committed crimes, the BOE may deserve to be recalled if they enabled it, and, yes, it takes the energy out of all of us. But when I return to teaching in the Fall, I plan to turn this into a lesson for my students about how communities and state and county governments can police themselves. Beyond finger-pointing, there is a positive lesson here for our kids.

Anonymous said...

11:04

I disagree, there are many people who knew that things were not right in DCSS and were quickly shut up, either by loosing their job, demotion, or threats. The taxpayers, parents, and teachers, need to voice their concerns and learn what others know. We need to make sure that a fair trial happens and that justice is served.

Many have tried to bring out the wrong doings and have been shut down. This can no longer happen, if we want what is best for our children.

Let the people speak, as we need to know the truth. Too many times employees, citizens and concerned parents have been silenced and we are now in a big pickle.

Yes, people are innocent until proven guilty. People are only reporting what they have heard or what they know. There is nothing wrong with this. Are you afraid that the truth will come out and more are involved than are currently indited?

Anonymous said...

RACE. There, I played it.

Anonymous said...

If Redovian was black Cere wouldn't have closed the thread critical of him.

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy. Here we go . . .

Anonymous said...

Pat Reid lost her Dcss county owned vehicle and all Dcss county access over the weekend!

Give Me a Break said...

Give me a break! Protecting Jim Redovian from criticism does NOT make you a racist! It may reveal you to be a protector / supporter / enabler of Jim Redovian. But not a racist!

Anonymous said...

Everyone, give Cere a break. She's not reading evry single post, and trust me, she's not trying to protect anyone. This blog is a service that she has stepped up with to provide. No one else has stepped up to put in the time to run a blog, other than Dunwoody Mom, who stepped up and started a blog.

Race is not the issue here. The county District Attorney has issued charges, and it's public record. Gloria Talley and Bob Moseley, two caucasian members of the Lewis/Tyson upper management inner circle, have been roated on this blog from Day One. No one cares about the skin color of Central Office administrators. We just care that they are doing their job and spending every penny efficiently and emphasizing the classroom and the school house. The Lewis/Tyson admin was then and still is now faocusing on spending money and resources on the Central Office. I don't care if the next superintendent is purple with polka dots as long as she/he can operate this system with an emphasis on academics and the student/teacher/parent, not on admin bloat and waste.

And again, Cere runs this blog as a service. She has no agenda, and don't call her out when someone anonympusly writes something ignorant. She's not reading each of the thousands of post here.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:26 said

Let the people speak, as we need to know the truth. Too many times employees, citizens and concerned parents have been silenced and we are now in a big pickle.

Yes, people are innocent until proven guilty. People are only reporting what they have heard or what they know. There is nothing wrong with this. Are you afraid that the truth will come out and more are involved than are currently indited?

No. What I'm concerned about is most board members get blasted on this blog while one board member (Jim Redovian) gets protected on this blog. That's unfair.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:06 pm

"Unfortunately, they were all given contracts for the next year, so this change will have to made now for the following year."

All contracts given by the BOE to DCSS employees say that the salary is projected but not guaranteed and can be changed at any time by the BOE.

teachercreature said...

I could encourage you to look back and read the many blogs critical of white board members, such as Bowen and Redovian. I'm afraid it would fall on deaf ears (eyes?), though, because some refuse to let go of the race argument. Black, white . . . it doesn't matter - they're taken a lot of our GREEN!We're in this together, like it or not, and when we get side-tracked from the primary issue, guess who wins? Not us, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

@ Just Sayin'
"I find it troubling that you'd stop comments critical of a white board member but allow comments of these four african americans. What's up with that?"

Womack's my BOE member, and he has been an awful BOE member. He has backed Lewis on everything he proposed. I just wish he was up for re-election. I'm going to work to ensure Jim Redovian gets defeated. He has also rubberstamped everything Lewis wanted. Every singe BOE member in DCSS has contributed equally to this terrible situation. All of the kids on DCSS are now suffering because of EVERY BOE member (there and no exceptions) going lockstep with Lewis.

Cerebration said...

Huh? I truly did not shut down the post about the people seeking to run for school board due to anything said about Jim Redovian. If it appears that way, I'm very sorry - that was not my intention. I just figured that no one else will run for school board if they have to endure the intense questioning that I saw going on regarding Nancy Jester.

I don't want this blog to become a political debating forum -- I figure the League of Women Voters, the AJC and Emory Lavista can handle that... So I decided to make the thread that was about the people announcing their candidacy for school board simply a page of announcements and information. I made a mistake by allowing commentary on that thread -- feel free to post whatever criticisms you have of current board members - just make them factual or ask questions please. Try not to personally attack - they are human beings.

BTW - I don't know Jim Redovian -- never met him. I only know him from his public board appearances. My rep is Paul Womack - and he's not up for reelection.

ps - This particular post is about the indictments handed down by the DA -- not sure how sharing this news makes a racial statement of any kind. It's news - from the AJC and elsewhere. I hope you noticed that I followed the news about the indictments with the list of tasks the board still needs to accomplish over the summer and into next year... our intention is to ensure they stay focused on those tasks - even though our former leadership (and I consider a COO a leader) - is in very hot water.....

Cerebration said...

FWIW -

I only am able to post what is announced. I'm not a reporter - and I don't get paid - so I don't investigate or do interviews or anything like that. I just try to compile the relevant info in one place and allow discussion... I've been told that the AJC plans to do a more in-depth job of reporting on candidates up for election this fall - I look forward to directing people to read what they print... Also - most candidates will set up a website and we'll share those when they're available... It's the best I can do -

Anyone know of a "real" reporter who would like to take on a busy blog?

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration

I hope you'll still post the candidates who are running under Pages - Candidates for School Board. I just want to get the information so I can see who to work for. I think that's what a lot of people want to do. Many people visit this blog. It's good to see who is running and get their contact information.

Actually, if DeKalb voters want to know more about the candidate, they can email or call or go to the candidate's website (if they have one). Candidates can update their information on a timely basis, and it's much more easily accessible to potential supporters. I wouldn't be asking questions of a candidate on a blog anyway. I'd do it in a email. Meanwhile, I'm glad to have the contact info for Nancy Jester. I will be emailing her to see if she wants me to do some door to door canvassing for her.

Thanks for all you do running this blog. I know it's been really intense this year. It's got to take up a lot of your personal time.

Anonymous said...

Cere - You're doing fine. Don't let the haters get to you. Everyone who reads this blog is passionate about our schools. The mess we're in (and the individuals responsible for it) drive those passions to a fever pitch. It's hard to avoid getting burned.

Thanks for running this blog. It's a good thing.

I believe this blog played a role in the indictments. And I believe this blog will play a role in electing five new board members in November. That's two positive things for our community.

So, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Cere, You're doing great! Keep up the great work. Posting candidates information is great. We can meet some of these folks before getting in the voting booth. So many of us get into the booth and just punch for the incumbent or another name we have never heard. Cere, your blog puts them front and center to the informed electorate, who will most certainly talk to others.

I think we need to make signs of the perp pics and begin protesting with them at the "palace" gates on Mtn Industrial

Dekalbparent said...

Yes, Cere, please continue posting candidate info whenever someone decides to run. This is a great way for us to be informed.

A clear disclaimer that "This is a posting of names and information submitted by those who are candidates for BOE. Posting this information does not imply endorsement. PLesae contact the candidates directly of look at their websites for further information."

No comments should be allowed on this particular thread - just info.

Cerebration said...

Thanks all. Especially to DeKalb Parent - I needed those words... I copied and pasted them verbatim.

The page is now up sans comments. Lesson learned. Let's just move forward ok?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Well, so far, as of May 5th, there are 2 people running for BOE office, District 1 and District 3.
We need more candidates!!!

Anonymous said...

I just read through the whole indictment and I was struck by the situation with the McNair project and how the Popes "allegedly" altered their bid to reflect the preference of a Board member (p. 36). Hmmmm, really?

Dekalbparent said...

Hey everybody, does it matter whether Tom Bowen is white? For goodness sake, we want qualified, honest, intelligent and resourceful BOE members who are not afraid to work hard and ask questions.

I know some of the current BOE is all about keeping score racially, and this has blinded them to the important business of their position.

There is plenty of back-scratching done among all ethnic groups - it is not the sole province of one...

For Pete's sake, I don't really know what "color" I am - my dad is the same color as Tom Bowen, My mom is the same color as Pam Speaks, my great grandmother came from Spain, and my family has been Pacific Islanders for 150 years - my cousin is half-Samoan. What would you call me?

Ella Smith said...

I guess it is time I do make a comment.

I have been a blogger on this site for a long time as I am passionate about the issues.

However, I will not be blogging the next few months. Why? Because I am a candidate and out of respect for Celeb this is not the place to answer questions. This is the place to discuss topics. I will continue to read the blog on a regular basis.

Celeb donates a great deal of time and she does need to be respected for her time and effort. Thank you Celeb for all you do.

Cerebration said...

Thanks, Ella. Send us a bio and we'll add you to the others (no comments...)

Also - good find on page 36-38 Anon -

During this same time PAT POPE provided inside information to TONY POPE. Specifically, PAT POPE informed TONY POPE that a DCSS Board member wanted a new building, the location and need for bathrooms in certain areas of the building, and provided early access to floor plans for the existing building on the project site. PAT POPE did not share that information equally with the other offerors giving TONY POPE an inlproper advantage. TONY POPE used this inside information to create two design options for CDM's "Approach" for the project. CDM (Moody Construction) then won the bid.

PAT POPE took the multiple illegal steps enumerated below, to ensure that CDM , whom she knew was employing TONY POPE, won The McNair Project and was awarded the Eleven Million Nine Hundred Thousand dollar ($11,900,000.00) contract. (See Exhibit R). COINTA MOODY notarized TONY POPE's pay applications related to the McNair Project which he submitted to DCSS.

Anonymous said...

THAT IS HUGE!

Cerebration said...

It continues --

Termination of the Architect
The McNair Project originally began as a Design-Bid-Build project. I? DCSS initially contracted with BDG to perform the architectural and engineering services for the McNair project. On December 14, 2005, DCSS issued a "stop work" to BDG. (See Exhibit S). One
16 The "Approach" criterion is essentially the architect's concept of the project.
17 As noted previously, Design-Bid-Build means an architect was hired separately by the DCSS, and the
construction part was bid out separately at a later date.
38
month later on January 17, 2006, CRAWFORD LEWIS wrote to Audra Brown-Cooper of
BDG and informed her that DCSS terminated the Architectural and Engineering Services Contract with BDG (See Exhibit T). DCSS paid BDG One Hundred Five Thousand Five
Hundred and Thirty-Two dollars ($105,532.00) for the work they had already completed which represented approximately 60% of the preliminary design. (See Exhibit U).
On February 3, 2006, PAT POPE then changed the McNair project to a DesignBuild
project and advertised a RFP (See Exhibit V) for the project as a Design-Build project. This meant DCSS entered into a contract with only the construction company and the construction company, in tum, contracted separately with an architect to design the project. By making this change, PAT POPE was able to conceal the involvement of A. VINCENT POPE & ASSOCIATES, INC. as the architect teamed with CDM to provide architectural services on the project.


So - Lewis actually terminated the contract.

Anonymous said...

Now which board member would have that specific an interest in the McNair project? Anyone?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Simply amazing. You just have to wonder what Pat Pope/Reid had on Lewis that he so willingly went along with her, aledgedly, of course.

RBRENTADAMS said...

I mean, if you want a real reporter/blogger, I'm sort of one.

Contact me RBrent.Adams@Gmail.com and we'll see what we can do.

Anonymous said...

DeKalbParent--
To answer your question at 2:20: I'd call you a concerned DeKalb parent. Which is, with due apolgies to the poet, all we know in blogland, and all we need to know.
Thanks for being here

Anonymous said...

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/schools/middle/mcnair/
Ronald McNair, Sr. Middle School

Board Members: Ms. Sarah Copelin-Wood
Dr. Eugene Walker

---

Hmmm, but the looks of the indictment, the "board member" who was in communication with Pat Pope on the McNair project may or may not be negligent or even included in some of the criminal charges. It is definitely against the BOE's policies and procedures for a board member to be involved with such decisions directly with an administrator.

So whomever the board member is that Pope Reide dealt with on McNair, get ready to have someone from the District Attorney's Office knocking on your door.

And Tom Bowen has a duty to have a seperate BOE investigation into the matter. Someone's in trouble, y'all!

Anonymous said...

"Specifically, PAT POPE informed TONY POPE that a DCSS Board member wanted a new building, the location and need for bathrooms in certain areas of the building, and provided early access to floor plans for the existing building on the project site."

Can't wait to find out who that board member is!!!

Dunwoody Mom said...

The same Sarah-Copelin Wood that had a complaint filed against her for her actions toward the Citizens Task Force?

DCSS Parent said...

The state of a school system is critical for a community in so many ways that go beyond education. As a taxpayer and property owner in DeKalb County, I am concerned about the effects of all of this adverse publicity on my ability to re-sell my home, which we've planned to do for years upon retirement. When we moved here, DCSS was already considered somewhat of a liability for home resale, but we liked the community and felt (still feel) at home. The recession has hit the county hard, but being able to boast of a truly "premier" school system would do a lot to bring it back.

Cerebration said...

A bit more regarding Dr Lewis' involvement -

Misrepresentation to DCSS Board
During the presentation of the MIC project to the Board, PAT POPE never disclosed the involvement of TONY POPE or the role of his company in the MIC project. (See Exhibit VV). The Board, with the recommendation of PAT POPE, approved the contract award to NIX-FoWLER for Seventeen Million Six Hundred Forty-Six Thousand dollars ($17,646,000.00). That contract contained a design fee2? of4.85%, totaling Eight Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand Thirty-One dollars ($855,831.00), which was paid to A. VINCENT POPE & ASSOCIATES, INC. (See page 22 ofExhibit WW). On May 11, 2008,

CRAWFORD LEWIS signed the contract with NIX-FoWLER. The contract specifically mentioned A. VINCENT POPE & ASSOCIATES, INC. as being involved in this project (Exhibit WW, page 37).

Cerebration said...

Additional Money to TONY POPE
Less than a month after the MIC contract award, DCSS instructed NiX-FoWLER to conduct a study to see if all DCSS administrative offices could be moved to MIC; however, the study called for the expertise of an architect.

In February, 2009, PAT POPE and CRAWFORD LEWIS executed a Two Million Four Hundred Forty-Three Thousand Eight Hundred Thirty-Nine dollars ($2,443,839.00) Change Order to cover the cost associated with the approved plan to move all DCSS administration into MIC. TONY POPE benefitted from this award.

Cerebration said...

HEERY-MITCHELL oversaw construction contracts prior to PAT POPE's employment by DCSS. Shortly after being employed by DCSS, she fired this company and replaced them with GUDE MANAGEMENT GROUP (hereinafter GUDE). PAT POPE knew the owner, Samuel Gude from their days working at another construction company. Immediately after hiring GUDE and during her tenure as COO, PAT POPE or COINTA MOODY repeatedly solicited GUDE to provide tickets to various social functions . . .

If GUDE did not provide the tickets solicited, PAT POPE would berate Samuel Gude over some aspect of his job, implying that he would lose his contract. The hostility would continue until he acquiesced to her request or referred her to another source to fulfill the request. For example, PAT POPE solicited Samuel Gude to pay for CRAWFORD LEWIS' vacation to New York City. Mr. Gude declined and referred her to another source.

Cerebration said...

Illegal Car Purchases
1. CRAWFORD LEWIS
During his tenure of CRAWFORD LEWIS as Superintendent, he and PAT POPE were the only DCSS employees to purchase their DCSS assigned vehicles at a substantial price reduction.
Contrary to law, CRAWFORD LEWIS purchased a 2006 Ford 500 from the DCSS on July 5, 2007 for Five Thousand Seven Hundred Sixty-Six dollars and Twenty-Five cents ($5,766.25). (See Exhibit YY). This figure represents approximately thirty-five percent (35%) of the Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle at the time of the purchase. DCSS originally purchased the car for the amount of Twenty-Three Thousand Fifty-Five dollars ($23,055.00) on October 26, 2005 and it had 24,345 miles at the time of the purchase by CRAWFORD LEWIS.


page 57

Cerebration said...

And here's the one that should have perked up Marcus Turk's interest - he should have followed up. Who approved this expense in the end? Who wrote the check for this?

For example, on June 17, 2008, CRAWFORD LEWIS called Marcus Turk, CFO of DCSS and stated to Turk that he was going on vacation and was short on funds. He asked if he could use the P-Card to pay for his hotel. Turk advised CRAWFORD LEWIS that such actions were illegal. The next day, Lewis repeated the same request and received the same response. Despite these warnings, CRAWFORD LEWIS used his DCSS P-Card to pay for a hotel room at The Lucayan in Freeport, Bahamas for Two Hundred Ninety-Five and Twenty cents ($295.20). (See Exhibit DDD). No official business was conducted during this stay.

Cerebration said...

And then there's this - probably the boldest move of all --

CRAWFORD LEWIS used his position at DCSS to initiate and facilitate personal relationships with female employees. Specifically, he paid for a room at The Ritz Carlton in Greensboro, Georgia, on March 12, 2008, which he used exclusively for personal use with a female su1Jordinate accompanying him. (See Exhibit EEE). No official county business was conducted despite the county P-Card being used for payment. CRAWFORD LEWIS also used county-purchased gasoline to travel to these locations.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Does anyone know who signed off on Lewis' expense reports? It has to be someone on the BOE, right?

Anonymous said...

No BOE member signs checks. Had to be someone from Business & Administration, most likely Turk or Tyson.

Dunwoody Mom said...

If that is the case, it should never gotten past any auditor. Any company requires the manager of an employee to sign off on an expense report. In this case, the BOE should have.

Cerebration said...

Now, this one is bothersome -

During the Summer and early Fall of 2009, the District Attorney's investigation accelerated. On October 2, 2009, the DA's Office interviewed DCSS construction attorney Greg Morgan. Morgan subsequently reported to DCSS about the progress of the investigation. Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 2009, CRAWFORD LEWIS unsuccessfully attempted to contact Gwen Keyes-Fleming, District Attorney. He then spoke with Chief Assistant District Attorney Don Geary of the District Attorney's Office via telephone. During this conversation, eRAWFORD LEWIS requested Chief Geary to "table" the District Attorney's Office investigation. He characterized PAT POPE as the star witness in the civil lawsuit and the need to keep her clean to prevent jeopardizing the civil lawsuit. Chief Assistant Geary refused to table the investigation.
65

This is the bothersome part - Morgan subsequently reported to DCSS about the progress of the investigation. - by that - does he mean he reported to Lewis or Pope or the board? If he reported to the board - then all this nonsense about them not knowing what was coming from the DA is just that - nonsense.

Cerebration said...

The charges against Lewis -

CRAWFORD LEWIS, individually and as a party to a crime, in the county of DeKalb, did engage in the below listed acts involving theft, which constitute racketeering activity pursuant to O.C.G.A. §16-14-3 (9)(B).

Act lnvolving Theft

Knowing TONY POPE was working on the MIC project, he signed an award of a $17,646,000.00 Contract to NIX-FoWLER which contained a $4.85% design fee benefiting TONY POPE

Knowing TONY POPE was working on the MIC Project, he signed award of a $2,443,839.00 Change Order as designer to study MIC move


So, we're to believe that Pat MADE him do this?

Cerebration said...

I don't know guys - I would say that Lewis knew what he was doing. And Pat knew what she was doing. Not certain that Tony Pope wasn't just doing business as usual... he had a signed contract after all. I don't think Tony went over to Lewis and threatened him and made him sign it. Lewis signed it. Most businesspeople would work a contract if the CEO (Superintendent) signed it...

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 5:00 pm

According to the DCSS organizational chart posted on the DCSS website Marcus Turk reported directly to Ms. Tyson, but indirectly to Dr. Lewis.

The only direct report the BOE has on the chart is the Superintendent, however the BOE does have the Internal Auditor reporting to them indirectly. The problem is DCSS has no Internal Auditor.

According to BOE minutes, the Evergreen Solutions LLC independent audit was tabled (BOE minutes 7-14-08):

"Ms. Andrews made a substitute motion, to table this item and move it to the Friday, July 18, 2008 called meeting agenda. The substitute motion was seconded by Ms. Roberts, and with a unanimous vote the motion passed."

There is no record it was ever brought up again in BOE minutes on July 18, 2008.

A year later in May, 2009 in BOE meeting notes, they discuss getting an Internal Auditor (around $100,000) a year. They even posted this position of Internal Auditor (a friend of mine saw it on PATS and applied for it). It was never filled.

I still think they need a clean sweep of the BOE and superintendent and an independent audit similar to the one that was done in 2004 under Brown and squashed by Lewis and the BOE. However, this person could have saved us untold amounts of money if they had been hired and then been allowed to do their job correctly.

There may be a lack of trust of the current administration and BOE to have an internal employee to audit this mess.

Now the Director of Internal Audit and Compliance is back on PATS. Of all the hundreds of millions in non-teaching positions that have been created, why did they not fill the position of Internal Auditor indirectly reporting to the BOE?

Here is the listing on PATS:
"The DeKalb County School System is seeking a highly qualified individual to serve as Director of Internal Audit and Compliance. This individual will report to the Superintendent. The eligible candidate will perform internal audits for the District including, operational, financial, compliance, and risk assessment activities across the District.

QUALIFICATIONS:
The incumbent must be able to satisfactorily perform each essential function of the position. Essential functions (other professional duties may be assigned): Direct auditors in the performance of financial, information systems, compliance and risk assessment audits throughout the school system. Direct and manage internal audit function. Direct auditors in the performance of annual examinations of each school/department's financial records. Administer the local school/department audit program. Perform other related duties as assigned by the Superintendent.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES:
Knowledge of accounting principals and practices, internal auditing standards, and techniques required for performing audits is required. Knowledge of governmental accounting and reporting standards is required. Strong interpersonal and communication skills, verbal and written skills are required and strong computer/technical skills are required. The ability to communicate effectively and work well with individuals at all levels of the organization is required. The Director of Internal Audits and Compliance performs professional performance, financial, information systems, compliance and risk assessment audits, conducts preliminary surveys, analyzes records of School System functions and departments to determine the accuracy of departmental financial accounts, adequacy of internal controls, and maintains the integrity of information systems applications to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and associated risk in program operations."

Cerebration said...

Better late than never!

Good report, Anon.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I thought it odd, curious, etc., that shortly after Pope/Reid was put on "special projects", all of a sudden a husband that she did not know she had not divorced was "discovered".

Cerebration said...

Well, then again, Tony Pope seemed pretty confident about winning DCSS contracts -

Hindering of a Law Enforcement Officer, O.C.G.A. §16-1 0-24

CRAWFORD LEWIS, individually and as a party to a crime, did unlawfully hinder a law enforcement officer, Investigator W.C. Nix, in the lawful discharge of his official duties as detailed below, which constitute racketeering activity pursuant to O.C.G.A. §16-14-3(9)(B).
Act I
....
Ordering the Director of Internal Affairs, as the recipient of subpoenas investigating the actions of PAT POPE, to forward those subpoenas to PAT POPE as the person to respond to those subpoenas

By concealing the fact from Inv. Clay Nix when questioned that in 2007, TONY POPE approached DRS, a project management company, and represented that URS would win a contract with DCSS if they partnered with him in a joint venture

By contacting Chief Assistant District Attorney Don Geary to attempt to stop the investigation into the school system until after the completion of the civil lawsuit.


So - Lewis told Ramsey to forward the DA's request to Pat Pope - knowing full well that Pat was the one doing wrong. Knowing full well (I would assume) that Pat would not dare provide evidence against herself - or against Lewis.

So - Tony was so confident that he would be awarded DCSS contracts that he went around seeking bid partners with promises of awards...

And so - Lewis actually picked up the phone and tried to get the DA to back off on their investigation.

And - we're supposed to believe that Lewis only did these things because he was being manipulated by Pat Pope.... uh huh...

Anonymous said...

The BOE failed in its fudiciary duty. It is their responsibility to protect public trust. It just kills me to think we had someone(Johnny Brown)in that was really trying to clean up DCSS. I just ponder the GOOD position I think we would be in. I think of all the people who are out of jobs that may not unemployed if Brown were still her.

Forgive me for crying over spelled milk...but the curds really stink!

Anonymous said...

The end is not near! This is just the begining. The DA's office is investigating Carol Thedford. She will be lucky to only loose her license and job if she doesnt loose her freedom. I dont care what she is saying to cover her butt. The manner in which she purchased those books shows her deceit and her knowing wat she was doing was wrong. I guess the next RICO warrant or raid will be on Miller Grove High and her home in Conyers.

Anonymous said...

LMBO...NO it does not matter if he is white or black although it is hard to tell...people are toooo toooo funny!

fedupindcss said...

Dunwoody Mom: I understood that the info on Pat Pope/Reid's squiffy marital status came out during depositions with Heery/Mitchell's attorneys. As is standard practice, HM did full background checks on every party to the suit in DCSS, and came up with Pat's lack of a full divorce. They then questioned her on it, causing much angst and hand wringing by Lewis, et.al at their "tactics."

Anonymous said...

The board's expense account policy DJD only applies to board members. Maybe they've set it up so a superintendent can do whatever he/she wants so long as it's within State guidelines.

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/ePolicy/policy.aspx?PC=DJD&Sch=4054&S=4054&RevNo=1.01&C=D&Z=P

Hopefully lesson learned. How about a change to DJD BOE?

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the allegation against C. Thedford happened in 2007? Why is it just coming out? Is it true that others also bought the books? Why are they not being named and are under scutiny? Is it because of how the invoice was written? From the stories that are being talked about regarding inappropriate use of funds that have not been mentionned, it would probably take several years to investigate them all. It seems to be more to this story if others are reportedly involved but Thedford was the only one being named.By the way other stories being discussed are how some have reportedly misappropriated funds and it was swept under the rug. Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Based on his most recent contract, the Superintendent was not required to submit receipts for his expenses.

Anonymous said...

Once again,
Thank you for providing your time to manage this blog.

Some people often do not appreciate the service they receive for "free". Many parents want information and you provide a service that fulfill that need.

We can agree to disagree; yet, respect the opinions debated on this site.

Anonymous said...

What needs to be talked about more is the connection between the corruption and the awful state of discipline and education in so many schools. Carol Thedford's palace is a zoo.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Ralph Simpson bulevard in front of C. Thedford's school!

Anonymous said...

Sign up to speak at Monday's Board Meeting. Surprisingly, there are spaces left.

The meeting will be held at 6:00pm at Cedar Grove Middle School,
2300 Wildcat Road, Decatur.

Come on folks, let's get these slots filled.

Cerebration said...

To sign up, send an email to

MARGARET_C_FRANCOIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Cerebration said...

I'm not sure where to post this, but it's an example of what DeKalb politics are all about. Apparently, there was a political forum/debate for Georgia's Fourth Congressional district (DeKalb) hosted by "Newsmakers Live" at the lounge Vino Libro in southeast Atlanta. All candidates were invited - except that is - Liz Carter - the only white candidate. The group says she was 'excluded' because they didn't "know" her. Well, Liz is very well-known in her district and has paid her fee and had signs up for quite some time.

Just read this portion of the AJC report to get a feel for the deep racial issues that we just can't seem to get past in this county -

Earlier Wednesday, Maynard Eaton, the moderator, said he was lambasted with negative messages from Massachusetts to California, two of Carter's former states, suggesting racism. Eaton also insisted he and producer Jim Welcome wouldn't be bullied into including Carter. Eaton said the candidate misconstrued what he said and unfairly brought race into the issue. He said the real problem was nobody knew who she was.

"We didn't try to exclude her; we did not know her," he said. "It is not her party. It's our party. ... She is trying to break into the party."

Once Carter showed up for the forum, the organizers allowed her to participate. Ruth and Carter were quizzed separately as GOP candidates and were friendly. Former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones and current DeKalb Commissioner Connie Stokes, the democratic candidates, complimented and criticized each other. Rep. Hank Johnson, the incumbent, did not show up for the debate.

Eaton said the charges of racism were unfair but he joked with Carter in a playful manner. Carter contended that diversity was important, drawing applause.

In the end, the moderator praised Carter's media skills.

"She is good, she is damn good," Eaton said. "She was nobody yesterday. She is somebody today."


Events like this make me lose all hope.

http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/twitter-use-lands-candidate-540533.html

Be there - done that.... said...

If you are sick and tired of your elected officials and want to change, then here are my suggestions:
The names of those on the ballot for Board of Education are at the end of the ballot. In 2010, there will be candidates for US Senate/House of Representatives, Constitutional officers (governor, lt. governor, Secretary of state, attorney general, etc), state house/senate, judges and then BOE. Many voters will stop after House of Representatives (if not before). This is voter drop off and it is a lot between the Governor and your BOE representative.
In my opinion if you were to ask your neighbor (not your PTA President) who their school board representatives were they would either say “I don’t know” or Frances Edwards or Elizabeth Andrews – neither of whom are on the BOE (rip – Ms. Andrews).
Research will tell you that only 1% of the population voting have any information about the individuals they are voting for; only 40% of the eligible population votes (and that is the top of the ballot) and the remaining 60% of the population doesn’t care. Basically that means you need to convince about 500 or so voters to vote for you in any given election and you will win – if you are running for school board.
If you are female, at the top of the ballot or an incumbent, then you automatically get about 10% of the vote for each category for school board.
If you really want to change the BOE, then quit complaining on this blog, go out and find candidates who have some name recognition within their communities, raise as much money as you can for them and then work 16 hours a day between now and November to convince the entire voting population to give them a change. Gripping on this blog will not change your BOE.
Otherwise, to quote an infamous DeKalb politician, “You get what you elect.”

Cerebration said...

Truer words have never been typed on this blog, BTDT.

Kim Gokce said...

@Teacher in DCSS: "Beyond finger-pointing, there is a positive lesson here for our kids."

Very powerful - you're a credit to the profession.

Kim Gokce said...

Last summer, in what I believe was our blog's first encounter with comment "policy," I asked Cere to moderate (remove) a comment that referred to Crawford Lewis using a racial epithet. While the criticisms by the poster were fair game, the insult was not.

From that day to this, there has not been a more fair and open blog on the web. Fundamentally, I believe this is due to the above average quality of our readership (aren't we a smart bunch?).

However, there is no doubt in my mind that the followers of this blog can attribute the quality of the information shared, the general character of discussion, and its engaging nature to one person - Cerebration.

I have never encountered anyone so dedicated to the cause of a blog and to the civic and public good that can come from civil dialog. Someone above said Cere doesn't read each of the thousands of comments posted here ... my guess is that Cere comes pretty darn close to that and we all owe our primary host a hearty, "THANK YOU!"

Cerebration said...

Thanks, my friend... I've met some pretty amazing people through this blog - you're at the top of that list, Kim. This is what continues to give me hope for DeKalb - the terrific, caring people willing to rally for change and willing to come together for the good of their schools and the schools around the entire county.

Anonymous said...

This blog is great exposure for allowing everyone to know what is truly going on in the county.
Information about the principal at Miller Grove should have opened an investigation but it has not. Also, the former principal, Yvonne Butler mandated her teachers to purchase her cookbooks. She sold cookbooks during school hours, cooked cookies on her own during school hours, used the school lunchroom on the weekend to cook for her presentations, had her makeup artist applying makeup on her during school hours while her book publications took pictures of students eating a healthy lunch,took out ot town trips to promote her cookbooks, made money giving speeches during school time.
This principal was never at school.
Teachers used to laugh about who managed the school.
A couple of years ago, she made money using an Arts Gala . Teachers were forced to come on the weekend before the Gala started to cook, decorate, clean the building, and each teacher was forced to purchase one twenty-five dollar ad for the Gala Booklet.If teachers did not buy into her quick rich scheme or tw promotions for her cookbooks, they were given the cold shoulder. Or, she would make it a point to let teachers know that they would need her for a recommendation.
It was a happy day when teachers found out that she would no longer be a principal. But, when teachers found out that such an incompetent person was promoted and given a big pay increase, no one could beleive that Crawford Lewis has fallen for her make beleive cookbook stories and then promote her to such a high position with no degrees in health. Rven when the dietian of the county tried to stand up and tell tis principal that she had overstepped her boundaries giving out wrong advice about how much sugar kids needed in their diet, this principal put up a fight. Why? Because, she felt that her cover was about to be blown.
So, bloggers, Carol Theford's actions couldnot be worse than the person who actually is started sellinf cookbooks way before Ralph even thought about writing a book. Visit the blog on Principal Investigation to get more info on Butler.

Anonymous said...

I'm not asking this in jest, but in all seriousness. Is there something medically wrong with Sarah Copelin-Wood? They are in the middle of discussing the Elks Lodge agenda item and she asks for a status of the construction work at Avondale and DSA. Huh?

Anonymous said...

And they are asking to purchase 4 million dollars worth of student response systems for interactive boards- .... they board is asking questions regarding ESIS... they dont even know the difference

Anonymous said...

and $750,000 for Dunwoody HS technology?????

Anonymous said...

Is anyone watching- this is painful

Anonymous said...

RE June 1, 5:33 PM's comment:

"If that is the case, it should never gotten past any auditor. Any company requires the manager of an employee to sign off on an expense report. In this case, the BOE should have."

HAS ANYONE REALLY REALLY LOOKED AT THE AUDITORS? ... SOMEONE NEEDS TO LOOK CLOSELY.

Cerebration said...

I am heartened by a quote I found on another blog -

"If karma is real, I’ve met a few people who are going to be doing time as bacteria in somebody’s large intestine during their next lives."

-Vanessa

Dekalbparent said...

Thanks, Vanessa, for the inspiring quote - it made my day. Thanks for sharing it, Cere.

Cerebration said...

Check out these two articles relating to Lewis' trial -

It's on! Look! It's off!

Trial set for ex-DeKalb schools' chief

Trial delayed for ex-DeKalb schools' chief

Cerebration said...

Well, I don't know if this should make us feel better - or worse. Seems stealing from school system coffers has become a national pastime.

Former Roslyn Superintendent Charged With $1 Million Theft

The former superintendent of the Roslyn School District on Long Island, which has some of the highest per-student spending in the state and sends almost all its high school graduates on to college, was arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to stealing more than $1 million from the district over 27 months.

The Nassau County district attorney, Denis Dillon, said the former superintendent, Frank A. Tassone Jr., arranged to have the district pay credit card bills for his personal expenses like air travel, cruises, hotel and resort accommodations, dermatological treatments, furniture, jewelry and meals.

The arrest of Dr. Tassone, 57, who resigned in June, comes as a four-month-old financial scandal continues to unfold in Roslyn, an affluent community on the North Shore where people have moved just to send their children to the highly ranked and well-financed schools. But in addition to the generous per-student spending that in 2002 ranked 23rd in the state, there were millions in expenses that passed undetected until recently.

Last month, the district's former business manager, Pamela C. Gluckin, also pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing more than $1 million, which prosecutors said she used to help buy automobiles and four homes and to pay for thousands of dollars worth of personal charges on her credit cards. All told, the authorities say they are investigating $8 million in district expenses that cannot be accounted for.

After Dr. Tassone pleaded not guilty, his lawyer, John L. Kase, said that his client bore some responsibility for Ms. Gluckin's actions since ''it happened on his watch,'' but that his contract with the district was so detailed that it caused him to confuse what the district would and would not pay for.

In Washington, the general counsel for the National School Boards Association, Julie Underwood, who has been a school lawyer for 20 years, said she did not know of a larger case in which school officials are accused of charging their district for personal expenses. Ms. Underwood said she was left speechless by the amount of what appears to have been embezzled, and by the fact that it had evaded multiple layers of state and local oversight for years.


Let that be a warning to our board -- the next super ought to have a VERY clear contract regarding what the school system will pay for. Either that, or just flat out give him or her $2,000+ a month in free money - to be spent as they please - like they've done for Ramona Tyson.