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    DA: DeKalb school construction probe ‘complex & enormous’

     

    An inquiry into DeKalb County schools’ construction contracts continues, with no hint as to how much longer it will take.

    School Superintendent Crawford Lewis sent the results of an “internal review” to District Attorney Gwen Keyes-Fleming in February, asking that her office look the file over and determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted. The prosecutor has said virtually nothing about the case since then.

    In March, the DA’s office said the investigation might not be completed for a couple months. Seven months later …

    “The case is complex and enormous in scope which is resulting in an extended investigation. We will share our findings when we complete the investigation,” Keyes-Fleming said Friday in a e-mailed statement in response to Atlanta Unfiltered’s questions.

    pat popeThe inquiry is believed to involve chief operations officer Patricia Pope, who oversees the school district’s construction and renovation programs. School investigators and IT employees reportedly examined records in Pope’s office, including files on her computer, in December.

    Pope has worked for DeKalb schools since 2005. She earned a salary of $194,850 in FY2008, the most recent year available on the State Auditor’s Web site.

    Footnote: This may well be totally unrelated, but State Auditor Russell Hinton sent out copies of the school district’s FY 2008 financial statements a couple weeks ago. The statements note that Pope’s husband, architect Vincent Pope, holds contracts with DeKalb County schools for several construction contracts, some of which were not subject to competitive bidding. The contracts were signed before Patricia Pope became COO. In FY2008, DeKalb schools paid $528,361 to Pope’s firm.

    Vincent Pope, who also goes by Anthony, has posted a comment on this item, which you can also read below:

    Let me add some clarity to part of this issue. First, Vincent Pope only holds ONE contract with DCSS for Columbia High School. This contract was obtained in 2004 prior to Ms. Pope working for the school system. The contract was extended to complete the renovations @ Columbia in 2008 for SPLOST 3 deferred work. This was not bidded due to the fact that we where already working on the campus and it was a continuation of the work being done. A similar contract extension was given to Milton Pate Architects and R. L. Brown Architects. No illegal maneuvering here.


     

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    7 Responses to “DA: DeKalb school construction probe ‘complex & enormous’”

    1. SpaceyG on Twitter says:

      Jim: you’re killing me out here just watching you try to do all this PI kinda stuff alone. So Lordy knows what it’s doing to you! Please ask for help if you need it. And as with any good i-reporter, you start by following the money trail.

      The local folk who’ve gotten funding for “sustaining” journalism (whatever the f that means, and sometimes I think it means just going around blabbing about Twitter at conferences rather than actually committing anything remotely related to journalism, but I diverge…) is Leonard Witt at KSU’s new Center for Sustainable Journalism.

      You likely know about this already, but for chrissake, maybe they could at least provide you an intern and a few bucks for a real web person. At the very least.

      http://sustainablejournalism.org/

    2. Jim Walls says:

      Thanks, Grayson. I’ve met with Len Witt a few times but really need to follow up with his business development manager at Kennesaw. Money only became an issue recently when my AJC buyout checks stopped coming, so I was just working on building the content and readership. Now it’s time to figure out a business plan. In the meantime, I find this sort of work to be fun even if not rewarding financially.

    3. SpaceyG on Twitter says:

      I just want online journalists to be able to get funding, somehow, someway. One small step can lead to others, and other funding sources. And it’s just good for all indie media types working online. We sure could use any inspiration we can get, put it that way.

    4. Jim Walls says:

      I agree. I decided in the last couple weeks that was equally as worthy a goal as my other goal (kickin’ butt).

    5. Anthony Pope, AIA says:

      Let me add some clarity to part of this issue. First, Vincent Pope only holds ONE contract with DCSS for Columbia High School. This contract was obtained in 2004 prior to Ms. Pope working for the school system. The contract was extended to complete the renovations @ Columbia in 2008 for SPLOST 3 deferred work. This was not bidded due to the fact that we where already working on the campus and it was a continuation of the work being done. A similar contract extension was given to Milton Pate Architects and R. L. Brown Architects. No illegal maneuvering here.

      We are currently closing out the Columbia High School project and this will conclude our contracted work with DCSS.
      Thanks

    6. dekalb citizen says:

      Mr. Pope,

      I trust you are telling the truth. We must be above board and hones with hard working dekalb county taxpayers

    7. janet russell says:

      They need to look behind the scenes at what is going on with Mr. and Mrs. Pope. For example the renovation at the Sam Moss center was architected by Mr. Pope and the county had to pay another architect over $10,000 to sign off on the plans under the table so that the job could get permitted. Not only that they used county paid workers to do the work until it was permitted and charged for contractors. When are people going to wake up and see what has been going on.

      Talk to some of the newly “retired” workers who were there during her reign. Both of the Pope’s need to be removed from the county positions they hold, return the vehicles they drive that the county pays for and get all of their relatives out of the positions they created then Dekalb Schools might regain its standing in Georgia. As of now they are worse than Clayton County even though they maintain their accreditation.

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