An Office of the Inspector General report found that certain officials in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system have been “faking data,” including creating “ghost students” in order to be eligible for more state and federal taxpayer money, Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah of the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.
The author reports that “cases of school administrators faking data” have become “a particularly troubling development in recent years,” due to increasing pressure on staff, who are “increasingly being tracked and evaluated based upon data on everything from student assessment scores to attendance…” At one point during the school year, an elementary school principal was found to have changed students’ grades in order to enable them to graduate.
Some of the other troubling findings from the report included an investigation that revealed that “school administrators falsified invoices supporting reimbursements, misspent school funds and were double-reimbursed.”
The report also found one particularly troubling breach,
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“a high school technology coordinator stole more than $400,000 by creating fake vendors he purportedly paid for supplies and diverting the money to his own bank account.”
The article notes that in lieu of criminal charges, oftentimes “the officials accused are allowed to resign with the stipulation that they not be hired by CPS again.”
Jim Sullivan, who’s been the district’s inspector general for nearly 11 years, was only able to investigate 22 percent of the 1,460 cases brought to the attention of his office, which employs 13 people. He said that “he takes on cases based on criteria that include whether the complainant is willing to talk, the reliability of the information and the potential return on the cost of an investigation.”
“Over the years the office, which investigates allegations of waste, fraud and financial mismanagement at CPS, has uncovered scandals, including $800,000 in illicit expenditures by two former board presidents for travel, office artwork and charity donations.”
Chicago Public School CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that that CPS has a “zero-tolerance policy for the intentional manipulation of data by our employees.”