Local governments in Georgia can use paper or computer software to comply with Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, which requires that government agencies keep records of official meetings. DeKalb County schools are in the education business, but they haven’t learned to adhere to that basic principle. School officials can’t produce minutes of two meetings where a controversial salary audit was discussed, nor the audit’s executive summary that was supposedly kept in the official file of a third meeting.
DeKalb County schools paid $341,000 several years back for a salary audit that found they were overpaying employees by millions of dollars a year. Now, school officials can’t seem to locate those findings. So, what happened?
MULTIPLE CHOICE: When did Pat Pope, a central figure in the criminal investigation of DeKalb County school construction contracts, divorce her first husband?
- 2006 (after marrying husband #2)
NOT-SO-HELPFUL HINT: At one time or another, she’s cited each of those years as the correct date.
DeKalb County schools’ multimillion-dollar damage suit over construction cost overruns may be undermined by a criminal probe of school contracts. Lawyers for a fired construction management firm, Heery/Mitchell, are scheduled to question the schools’ chief operating officer, Pat Pope, on Wednesday. Heery/Mitchell wants to hear what Pope knows about a criminal investigation of her handling of school construction contracts.
Parsons, the engineering and construction firm, will oversee DeKalb County schools’ $466 million construction program for the next six weeks. After that, who knows? Parsons and Jacobs Project Management Co. will be paid $644,150 for their trouble. The firms in June won a contract for “supplemental” management, but Superintendent Crawford Lewis gave Parsons “full responsibility” for the program in an Oct. 22 letter. The company takes the reins from chief operations officer Patricia Pope, whose office is under investigation by DeKalb prosecutors.
Patricia Pope, DeKalb County schools’ embattled chief operations officer, is officially out as the district’s construction manager, at least temporarily. Officials have insisted Pope is still the system’s COO even as a criminal investigation of school construction programs has ramped up. Pope may still be COO, but a new interim construction boss, Barbara Colman, is named in a proposal to be presented tonight to the DeKalb Board of Education.
An inquiry into DeKalb County schools’ construction contracts continues, with no hint as to how much longer it will take. District Attorney Gwen Keyes-Fleming has said virtually nothing about the case since Superintendent Crawford Lewis sent her results of an internal review in February. “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.
DeKalb County schools have paid attorney Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore $389,161 to investigate bullying at Dunaire Elementary School. The latest summary of payments, released today, shows the school district paid Moore:
May 12, 2009 — $ 3,423
June 5, 2009 — $166,955
July 13, 2009 — $128,628
Aug. 18, 2009 — $ 90,155
Total — $389,161