LESSONS IN CRIME?
Why Protecting Schools Matters
time of year…when kids and families are gearing up for the coming school
year. We’re gearing up, too, to help keep corruption out of the public
That’s the FBI’s job? Yes, if the individuals
involved are government employees, it falls squarely within our public
Of course, the overwhelming majority of school
teachers and administrators are fully and admirably devoted to their students. But
even schools and universities are not free of graft and dishonesty…and
it does nothing less than put the quality of our country’s education
at risk. Corruption robs school budgets of millions of essential dollars…causes
students to get inferior books, supplies, and facilities…and perhaps
most importantly, sends the wrong message to our nation’s youth.
Here are some examples of cases we’ve worked with our partners
in recent weeks and months:
- On Tuesday, a Maryland
man was indicted for allegedly buying $1 million in educational software
while head of Prince George’s County schools.
Why is that a crime? Because, according to the charges, his live-in girlfriend
worked for the software company, and the pair split a $20,000 commission
on the sale. He is also charged with steering a consulting contract to a
former employee in exchange for more than $100,000 in kickbacks.
- While state superintendent
of Georgia schools, Linda Schrenko helped steal more than half-a-million
dollars by fraudulently writing checks to a fellow conspirator. The money
was supposed to pay for computer licenses and services for the Georgia and
Atlanta Area Schools for the Deaf and the Governor's Honors Program. Instead,
most of it went straight into Schrenko’s pockets:
to help fund her ultimately failed campaign for governor and even to pay
for her facelift surgery. On July 12, Schrenko was sentenced to eight
years in prison for her crimes.
- On June 15, a Maryland
elementary school principal named Diane McFarland was
convicted of embezzling some $18,000 that was supposed to pay for
reading materials for her students and to reimburse teachers for training
- On April 3, Lorelle
Dance, ex-business manager for D.C. public schools, pled
taking nearly $40,000 in bribes from a contractor—including monthly
mortgage payments on her house—in return for preferential treatment
in obtaining work at several elementary schools.
- Brothers David and Guadalupe Vasquez, one the former superintendent of
the Santa Rosa Independent School District and the other a former school
board president, were convicted of corruption following an FBI sting. The
brothers agreed to rig a contract for school bus tires…for a price—four
car tires worth all of $500.
- Carl Coleman, a former risk manager for the New Orleans Public Schools,
pled guilty to accepting some $300,000 in kickbacks in exchange for giving
contractors favorable treatment on “emergency bid” work. Following
this case, the New Orleans Police Department, U.S. Department of Education,
FBI, and others created a working group to review and investigate alleged
criminal violations in the New Orleans Public Schools. So far, the group’s
work has led to over 25 convictions.
We’re doing our part to protect the integrity of the nation’s
school systems. Please do your part, too. Help us stop fraud, waste,
and corruption in schools and throughout government by submitting tips through
our Report Corruption website…or
by calling your local FBI office.
Resources: Public Corruption webpage |