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Chicago Public Schools Carries City's Corruption Torch

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jan 7, 2009 5:05PM

2009_01_07_cps.gif It seems the corruption that dominates our local politics extends to the area school system. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Inspector General dealt with over 1,000 complaints of fraud and waste between July 2007 and July 2008, an issue symbolized by the Cappuccino Machine Debacle. A CPS manager ordered 30 cappuccino machines, at a total cost of $67,000, for a work-school program.

But five months after the machines were purchased, 22 remained unopened, one disappeared and three were being used at two schools—though not in the culinary arts program for which they were intended, the district's inspector general said Tuesday.

Officials in a department dealing with work-school programs allegedly separated the purchases to make them appear they came from 21 different schools and were under $10,000.

By doing so, the purchases did not have to be competitively bid or win school board approval, said Jim Sullivan, the district's inspector general.

The end result is that CPS wound up shelling out $12,000 more than they needed, not to mention the fact that this raises the question, "Why the hell do the schools need expensive cappuccino machines anyway?" Our math isn't the best, but that works out to $2,233.33 per machine. For cappuccino. Good to know things at our public schools are so well in order that officials can essentially just start wiping their asses with $100 bills.

In total, the inspector general's office investigated 1,012 cases and according to the Trib, "940 cases were closed with many resulting in recommendations for termination and some for criminal prosecution." Another major case involved staff members at Rachel Carson Elementary School who falsified records and used clout to get family children into the school in spite of the school's attendance boundaries. In addition, 69 children who lived outside the boundary for the school and were completely honest about their addresses were also admitted. As a result, around three dozen students who lived within the boundary had to be bused to other schools at a cost of around $252,000.

If there's a bright side for anyone in all of this, at least Blago knows where to send his resume once he gets removed from office.