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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.
The 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.