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Chicago Public Schools employee made $122K while living in California: report

Funneled taxpayer money to her printing company

A Chicago Public Schools employee allegedly made $122,000 while living in California, according to an Office of Inspector General report from the school district.

She also used her position to personally profit, according to the report, published January 1, 2021. The investigation began sometime in 2015, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The inspector general said:

An investigation determined that a computer technician and a clerk at an
elementary school engaged in a “ghost payroll” scheme for two years, with the
apparent approval of the school’s principal.

The scheme started when the computer technician moved to California without
resigning from CPS and then continued to draw CPS paychecks while living in
California. The clerk helped the computer technician maintain the appearance that
she was working by regularly clocking in and out for her at the school. This practice
continued for two years. The OIG concluded that, during this period, the computer
technician may have made a couple trips back to Chicago for a few days at a time and
clocked herself in at the school, perhaps even working those days. However, aside
from those few exceptions, she was in California and not performing her CPS job.

“As a result of the fraud, CPS paid the computer technician $121,893.84 in unearned gross wages for 356 work days over a period of two years,” the report said.

Not content with getting paid to do nothing, she also found a way to steer more money her way through a printing company. The report said:

In addition to the timecard fraud, the computer technician also violated the CPS
Code of Ethics by engaging in improper self-dealing with a printing company in
which she and her husband were corporate officers. During the period of her CPS
employment, her printing company sold $237,302.62 worth of goods to 14 CPS
schools, including $65,790.27 worth of printing supplies that she purchased for the
elementary school where she was employed.

Like the principal, the computer technician also resigned shortly after her fraud was
discovered. Although she and her husband’s company continued to be a CPS vendor,
they refused to cooperate in the OIG’s investigation. The OIG recommended that the
Board permanently debar the computer technician, her husband and their company,
both for violating the Code of Ethics and for refusing to cooperate with the OIG. The
Board has advised that it has initiated debarment proceedings against those parties
that are still pending.

The principal, who knew about the scheme, and the school clerk, who helped her by punching her timecard, have both left the unnamed elementary school. All three employees now have do-not-hire designations on their personnel files, according to the report.

The school district has regularly grappled with spending problems and poor oversight procedures. Its former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet steered tens of millions of dollars to favored companies and served several years in a federal prison for her scheme.

MORE: Half of CPS teachers skip out on work

IMAGE: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.