12 Detroit Public School Principals Charged with Bribery

The revelations come at a time when the district is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and a lawsuit from the teachers’ union.

Authorities charged 12 current and former principals in the Detroit Public Schools system for their part in an alleged bribery scheme that paid them nearly $1 million as the district coped with budgetary constraints.

Police say the company of Detroit Public Schools vendor Norman Shy was paid $5 million as part of the scheme, of which more than half was fraudulent.

Parents described the accusations as “just another slap in the face” as the district deals with criticism for poor teaching conditions and for being hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

“I cannot overstate the outrage that I feel about the conduct that these DPS employees engaged in that led to these charges,” Detroit Public Schools Transition Manager Judge Steven Rhodes said in a statement March 29.

The alleged kickback scheme involved Shy paying principals to order supplies that were never delivered, according to freep.com.

Since 2002, when authorities say the bribery began, Shy allegedly paid the principals $900,000. In response, the principals signed off on $5 million worth of supplies from Shy’s company. Police say $2.7 million of those payments were fraudulent.

The principals allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices for things like chairs, paper and teaching materials they knew would never be delivered. Compensation for principals ranged from $4,000 to $194,000.

In response to the charges, the district announced the suspension of all purchases by individual schools in addition to a review of all school-based vendor contracts. An independent auditor will also be recruited.

The defendants in the case, their titles and the charges against them are listed below.

  • Clara Flowers, 61, assistant superintendent of DPS’s Office of Specialized Student Services (charged with accepting $324,785)
  • Stanley Johnson, 62, former principal of Hutchinson Elementary School (charged with accepting $84,170 in kickbacks)
  • Ron Alexander, 60, principal at Charles L. Spain Elementary (charged with accepting $23,000)
  • Beverly Campbell, 66, former principal at Rosa Parks School and Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School (charged with accepting $50,000)
  • Gerlma Johnson, 56, former principal at Charles Drew Academy and Earhart Elementary-Middle School and current principal of Marquette-Elementary Middle School (charged with accepting $22,884)
  • James Hearn, 50, principal of Marcus Garvey Academy (charged with accepting $11,500)
  • Tanya Bowman, 48, former principal of Osborn Collegiate Academy of Math, Science and Technology (charged with accepting $12,500)
  • Josetta Buendia, 50, principal at Bennett Elementary School (accepting $45,775)
  • Ronnie Sims, 55, former principal of Fleming Elementary School (charged with accepting $58,519)
  • Willye Pearsall, 65, former principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School (charged with accepting $50,000)
  • Tia’Von Moore-Patton, 46, principal of Jerry White Center High School (charged with accepting $4,000)
  • Clara Smith, 67, principal of Thirkell Elementary-Middle School (charged with accepting $194,000)
  • Nina Graves-Hicks, 52, former principal of Davis Aerospace Technical High School (charged with accepting $27,385)

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