Jail sentences have been handed out in the trials of former DeKalb County Schools leaders accused of tampering and financial mismanagement. Former chief operating officer of the school district, Patricia Reid, her ex-husband, Tony Pope, and ex-superintendent Crawford Lewis were convicted of a number of charges.
Lewis was sentenced to a year in prison on Monday after he pleaded guilty in October to helping direct about $80 million to a construction company owned by Pope.
Reid was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 15 years to serve, and Pope was given 20 years with eight years to serve.
“This was on his watch. He stood by and then hindered, interfered and tried to stop the completion of a rightful, lawful investigation,” said Judge Cynthia Becker. She called the scheme a “remarkably stupid decision” by very intelligent people.
Click here to read DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James’ statement about the sentencing.
The latest chapter in the school board case is closed, but the school board and school district still has a number of hurdles to face. Last December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) placed the school district on accreditation probation.
After an October review, SACS discovered that the county was failing to handle budget issues pertaining to layoffs and furloughs and failed to prevent the dismantling of the Fernbank Science Center, a museum and woodland complex funded by the school district, in May of 2012.
The Dekalb School Board has been paying for Lewis’s defense for more than three years, since he was charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and theft by a government employee and falsifying public documents.
Poor and ineffective governance of Georgia’s third largest school district would soon leave DeKalb County in shambles similar to Clayton County in 2008, when SACS stripped Clayton County its accreditation, forcing thousands of students to flee the system. In the ensuing aftermath, home values plummeted and the system lost millions of dollars in state and federal aid.
A battle between the school board and its members would soon hit its peak, leading to the loss of another superintendent, Cheryl Atkinson.
Read more about the tribulations of the Dekalb School Board here.