Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Breaking: FBI Investigating Chester Upland District Finances

Chester Upland School District has been through the wringer, suffering through just about every problem a school district could face in the last century. Most recently they have been facing a state receivership and an administration that seems anxious to convert them to charter schools, the first district in Pennsylvania to be official dismantled, gutted and sold for parts.

Today, more trouble--at least for some folks:

The FBI and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer are investigating are investigating millions of dollars worth of missing funds in the Chester Upland School District, sources close to the investigation confirmed late Wednesday.

The DA's office became aware of the situation Monday. 

If this sounds fairly sedate, the rumors circulating are considerably less. Talk of a money-laundering scheme run through the district, with the FBI raiding the administration offices and collecting all computers, servers--the works.

Financial issues have been at the heart of district issues for years, with the state at one point declaring that the record keeping was such a mess that an audit couldn't even be completed. Missing money has been a repeated issue in the district, resulting in years when staff has been asked to defer payment. Those financial issues have been exacerbated by aggressive charter expansion in the city; at one point, CUSD had the distinction of sending more money to charter schools than it received in support from the state.

District receiver Juan Baughn (who recently retired from the district superintendent post) tried to tamp down rumors of district in-house shenanigans, saying that itv was hacking thing. "It was a hacking issue related to our funds that we get from the PDE." That would be a first in the state. Baughn says they turned the hacking info over to the DA immediately; he offered no explanation of how the FBI became involved. It sounds uncomfortably like "I didn't write that terrible tweet--somebody must have hacked my account."

Very little official information is available right now. I'm keeping my eyes peeled and will post more when I know more.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting... but I still maintain that Chester's problems in education and in government are built on a century of 'plantation politics' and no one seems to care about that; when we grow up in a model, it's what we know. HOW do we look at this situation in ways that don't assume criminality, but simply the lack of ANY REAL support for 'teaching' board skills? I say this as one who has served on 2 school boards (Quaker) and know the challenges, and know that what helped me were people who knew how to do the work. Anyway, thanks for the breaking news...