Ex-School Official Pleads Guilty in Tutoring Scam

     (CN) — A former leader of the embattled Detroit Public Schools pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal-program fraud for filing bogus invoices for nonexistent tutoring services, prosecutors said.
     Eastern Michigan U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says Carolyn Starkey Darden, 69, obtained at least $1.2 million from DPS between 2005 and 2012 by submitting fraudulent invoices for tutoring services that were never really provided to Detroit students.
     She pulled off the scheme as president or agent of companies she established to give supplemental educational services to eligible students, according to McQuade.
     Starkey Darden, former DPS Director of Grant Development, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy. She faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
     Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 28.
     “We know that most school officials and teachers are honest, but we hope to deter fraud by holding accountable those who steal funds from our school children,” McQuade said in a statement. “It makes a difference when those who are tempted by greed know that someone is watching and there is a price to be paid.”
     DPS has made recent headlines for allegations of corruption and instability.
     A recent bribery and kickback scandal resulted in federal criminal complaints against 13 current or former DPS principals.
     Earlier this year, dozens of schools were closed after teachers went on strike because of deteriorating buildings, low wages, crowded classes and concerns about education reform legislation.

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