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CPS Report: Teacher Given $1.253 Million Expense Check Instead of $1,253

By DNAinfo Staff | January 3, 2014 1:24pm
 A check was written for more than $1 million at one CPS elementary school.
A check was written for more than $1 million at one CPS elementary school.
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CHICAGO — Who wants to be a millionaire? Apparently, not one particular Chicago elementary school teacher — if it meant getting rich dishonestly.

According to a new report of alleged wrongdoing in Chicago Public Schools, the unnamed teacher was due a $1,253 reimbursement, but a typo by the school clerk caused the check to be written for $1.253 million.

According to the report issued Friday by the CPS inspector general, the check was signed by the unnamed clerk and the principal of the school, which was also not identified.

The teacher deposited the check into an ATM. A few days later, she checked her balance and "discovered that over $1 million had been posted to her account," the report said.

The teacher alerted the school and the bank.

"There is no evidence that anyone attempted to steal any money," the report said, but it listed the incident under "lack of internal controls" and recommended that the check-writing system be modified to prevent checks of such large amounts from being issued.

The million dollar check snafu was one of 1,460 complaints received by Inspector General James Sullivan alleging misconduct, waste, fraud and financial mismanagement within CPS between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.

The top complaint, about 18 percent of the total, alleged violations of teacher and student residency requirements, the report said.

Names and schools are not included in the report, but among the incidents the inspector general reported were:

• An alumnus of a high school improperly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in school uniform business in a no-bid contract. Sources told DNAinfo Chicago that the school was Lane Tech.

• A high school's technology coordinator received more than $144,000 in "suspect" reimbursements during a 22-month period. The coordinator "was also involved in a scheme in which he created fictitious vendors and caused $419,748 in payments to the vendors, much of which the technology coordinator pocketed."

The coordinator later was found dead in Tijuana, Mexico.

The Tribune reported the school was Lake View High School and the suspect was Roberto Tirado.

• A CPS administrator, earning more than $144,000, arranged to have his daughter qualify for free lunches designed for needy children. The administrator said he did not know who completed the forms, though the applications "bear the apparent signature of the administrator's wife," the report said.

• A high school principal falsified travel receipts as part of a scheme that included using thousands of dollars in school funds to pay for trips for "associates." The principal hid nearly $1,000 in liquor purchases. The principal resigned and paid back $5,100. 

An assistant principal at the school collected $9,090 in improper payments by double billing. The assistant has also resigned.

• A high school principal enrolled "ghost students" so that the school would be eligible to hire a $105,000-per-year assistant principal. A computer programmer created grades for the students.

The principal retired, and disciplinary action against the programmer is pending, the report said.

• An elementary school security officer was arrested with a half-kilo of cocaine in his car and another half-kilo in his home.