by Barry Burch Jr.
The District of Columbia’s Attorney General (AG) has filed suit against a DC Public Charter School and its President, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel, for illegally diverting school funds into their own businesses and ultimately their own pockets.
These three individuals respectively, Dr. Donna Montgomery, Dr. David Cranford, and Paul Dalton, were indicted for creating two separate corporations (EES and EEMC) that “provided” services to the Options Public Charter School (OPCS). A local DC anchor, JC Hayward, is also allegedly involved. Hayward was on the Board of Trustee’s and is said to have approved bonuses and contracts to EES and EEMC.
The complaint filed by the Attorney General alleges that the Defendants engaged in self dealing; culminating in a 2.8 million dollar scheme this year. OPCS is a public charter school that receives funding from the District for its students. The record claims that Defendants created two corporations which it then awarded contracts to for the provision of services to OPCS. Through these service contracts, the Defendants approved and made a series of “unjustified” payments, which “improperly” lined their pockets. An example of these unjustified transactions is OPCS payment to EES for student transportation in the amount of $ 981,250.00; more than five times the amount OPCS paid for the same services the year before.
In February of 2013, the $ 2.8 million dollar scheme is alleged to have started once the Defendants became aware that OPCS would receive a $ 2.8 million increase in its funding for students with disabilities. Defendants are suspected to then have entered into a contract with EEMC for “management services” with a pricetag of, ya, you guessed it, $ 2.8 million dollars. Supposedly, the “management services” contracted for were currently being performed by OPCS staff, if they were even being performed at all. The money is claimed to have gone to the Defendants. By July 2013, all three Defendants resigned from OPCS.
The Attorney General has asked the court to freeze all assets of the Defendants, cancel any contracts between OPCS and EES or EEMC, and place OPCS in a receivership, aka give them a guardian/custodian to watch over the finances.