A total of 12 Detroit principals, along with a vendor of school supplies and an assistant superintendent, have been charged with corruption following a federal investigation.
The deterioration of Detroit schools has been well documented and made known to the public—teachers staged a series of “sick outs” in January to bring attention to the appalling classroom conditions (including dead rodents, mold, and food not safe for consumption). In response, Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, provided millions in emergency funding. The public schools declared they could face bankruptcy by April before Snyder stepped in.
ThinkProgress reports that one of these principals charged with corruption, Ronald Alexander, even went on “The Ellen Show” to request help from the public and received a $500,000 donation for his school along with some support from Justin Bieber.
Yet the federal investigation reveals that Alexander, along with the other principals, who cried out over the deplorable circumstances of their public schools further exploited Detroit children’s’ schooling experiences to illegally stuff their own wallets.
The dozen current and former principals accepted fraudulent invoices for school supplies from the supply vendor, Norman Shy. Shy would not deliver all the school supplies, despite receiving a full payment; in turn, he would pay bribes to the principals.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, said in a press conference that this activity occurred from 2002 to 2015 and while “the pay for each principal [varied], the total for all principals came to $900,000 and Shy received $2.7 million.”
This is the epitome of corruption—it is disgusting to see those who are ostensibly leaders for children only add to the plight of Detroit public schools that are already suffering terrible conditions with incredibly selfish, morally disgraceful actions.
McQuade rightfully noted that, “A case like this is a real punch in the gut for those who are trying to do the right thing.” Incidents like this only set back progress for a city like Detroit that is desperately attempting to improve its public schools.
According to the Associated Press, the principals are currently on unpaid leave.
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