The Chicago Public School system is nearly bankrupt and residents are over-burdened by some of the highest taxes in the nation to pay for it. Teachers are getting millions of dollars for working just one day in their life, while the kids they graduate can’t read. School suppliers win inflated contracts with bribes and kickbacks. And the well-paid CPS bureaucrats, we find out, are openly stealing from the schools. And none of it can be stopped.
Inspector General report
Chicago’s Office of Inspector General released a scathing report detailing the abuses being committed within the Chicago Public School system this week. Surprisingly, the fraud that is documented isn’t being perpetrated by the city’s notorious street gangs, organized crime or the mentally ill, as local news outlets typically portray. Instead, the report shows the widespread abuse is being carried out by “high-level and highly-paid CPS administrators”.
Inspector General James M. Sullivan, while appreciated for documenting the criminal activity by CPS employees, has himself admitted that it may not be possible to stop some of the fraud, specifically the bribes and kick-backs paid by profit-hungry corporations to CPS purchasing managers. He wrote that firing the CPS vendors caught in the unethical, and possibly illegal kickbacks, “would critically affect the ability of CPS to provide necessary services at market prices.” In other words, the suppliers are simply too big to fire.
As detailed by the Chicago Sun Times, the CPS vendors include Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality and Preferred Meals Systems. Together, they handle roughly $77 million in CPS foodservice contracts annually. IG James Sullivan’s report confirms that his previous recommendations for CPS to monitor the vendors in question had no effect. “That recommendation has fallen on deaf ears,” he writes.
Free lunch program
According to the Inspector General’s report, some of the most blatant fraud continues to surround the discounted lunch program for poor kids. Over the last 4 years, over 50 CPS employees have been caught enrolling their own unqualified children in the free lunch program. Each year, the CPS employees are caught. And each year, little is done to stop the abuse.
The Inspector General’s report took particular exception to the possibly criminal activity this year, because many of the perpetrators are high-level CPS bosses. “The cases reported this year are especially important because the results show that fraud is being committed by high-level and highly-paid CPS administrators,” the report states, “Cumulatively, the issues reported on suggest widespread, systematic fraud.”
Too many to prosecute
The Inspector General’s report reluctantly concedes that the massive amount of fraud being carried out by CPS officials is so rampant, it’s impossible to investigate it all, much less stop it. According to Sullivan, his small IG’s office and handful of investigators only had the resources to look into 27.5 percent of the complaints received in 2012.
Through all of last year, the Inspector General received 1,651 complaints or whistleblower tips regarding alleged criminal activity inside the Chicago Public School system. That’s 4.5 complaints per day, every day, 365 days per year. The IG suspects that since his office doesn’t have the resources to investigate the fraud and criminal activity, and CPS officials have no inclination to admit it, much less stop it, the problem could be even worse than it appears.
One of the most common ethics violations, joining ‘on-duty criminal conduct’ and ‘inattention to duty’, is the simple residency requirement. It’s an encouraging sign that the decades-long trend of Chicago parents lying to suburban schools and posing as residents just to be able to send their kids to a good, safe, suburban school just across the Chicago border has reversed. Now, suburban parents, CPS employees and administrators included, are lying to CPS admissions officials, posing as Chicago residents to get their kids into the city’s coveted magnate programs. The report shows that many of the CPS employees taking advantage of Chicago taxpayers actually live in the suburbs, specifically the south suburbs, the IG notes.
While violating residency requirements is probably the least outrageous offense documented by the Inspector General’s report, some of the more serious accusations go all the way to the top. IG Sullivan also revealed that 2 former Chicago School Board Presidents used more than $800,000 in School Board funds on questionable expenses.
Adding insult to injury, according to the IG’s report, CPS has such little interest in monitoring the fraud and crime being perpetrated against the taxpayers, there is “a substantial risk that waste, fraud, financial mismanagement and employee misconduct go undetected”.
For more information, visit the website of the Office of the Inspector General of Chicago.
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