Thursday, October 19, 2006

Grand Jury investigating charter contractors

[Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been on the road. I finally have an internet connection so I'll try to catch up with as much DC school news as possible.]

A grand jury has begun an investigation into potentially fraudulent payments made to contractors associated with the ousted DCPS charter school executive Brenda Belton.
A grand jury probe of the D.C. Board of Education’s charter school offices is now concentrating on three individuals and five companies that were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars even though they weren’t registered as businesses in D.C., sources familiar with the investigation said.

The three often shared tax identification numbers and the payment checks for one of them was collected by school executive Brenda Belton, the sources said.

Belton is now the target of the grand jury’s probe, sources said.

The sources would only speak to The Examiner on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still open.

As the head of the charter schools office, Belton was responsible for running 18 charter schools that enrolled about 4,000 students. She controlled a budget of $600,000 last year and also spent some $307,000 in federal funds that the Board of Education allegedly didn’t know about.

The grand jury wants to know if Belton steered lucrative contracts to her friends, family and herself through a series of companies.

Through her lawyer, Vincent H. Cohen Jr., Belton has denied wrongdoing. Cohen refused to comment for this story.

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