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DeKalb County DA looking at SACS report

8:01 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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  • (Duffie Dixon, 11Alive News)
    

ATLANTA, Ga. -- 11Alive News has learned the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office has requested a copy of the recently released report from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools regarding DeKalb County schools.

The report says the school board is to blame for mismanagement of funds and that "the system is dealing with a financial crisis".

In a press conference Monday Mark Elgard, President and CEO of AdvancED had strong words about school board members saying, "it isn't a board anymore. It's actually nine political leaders who have their own alliances and allegiances."

Elgart also said there are glaring examples where the board has failed to account for where money is spent including a loan for $25 million dollars to buy textbooks.  SACS said half the money was used to fund books purchased in previous years, but it could find no evidence that books were purchased with the remaining $12 million.

"Wthey themselves can't tell us where they spent the money. I'm not sure what to think of that.

The question now iswhat was that money spent on, who spent it and is there anything criminal about it. 

Elgart said the job at SACS doesn't include that.

"We don't have subpoena power and we need to stop short of making that type of claim. Another agency could investigate if it wanted to," said Elgart.

11Alive News has learned the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office requested a copy of the SACS report and is currently going through all 19 pages.

Dr. Eugene Walker, DeKalb County School Board Chairman,  insists there is nothing that would warrant a criminal investigation.

"We don't manage the money. That's done by the system.  We do have state audits and we just finished the KPMG audit.  To my knowledge they did not find any wrongdoing or mismanagement," said Walker.

The District Attorney's Office has stepped in to investigate the school board before.

There's a trial pending against  Former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis and three others.
They're accused of cheating taxpayers out of millions of dollars by funneling construction contracts to certain contractors.

In the SACS report the language is eerily similar saying "board members operate for their individual constituents" and "routinely exhibit unprofessional and unethical behavior." 

SACS has placed the DeKalb County School District on a year long probation saying it wants to see significant progress on a number of recommendations and "a change in culture". 

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