Feds Charge 12 Detroit School Principals for $1 Million in Supply Contract Kickbacks

Nine Indiana Schools Close After Bomb Threats
AP Photo
Detroit, MI

The Department of Justice has announced that 12 current and former Detroit public school principals, one school supply vendor, and one administrator have been indicted for engaging in a scheme worth one million dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

The Detroit Free Press reports that federal officials have charged Norman Shy, the owner of Allstate Sales, a Detroit school supply vendor, with paying $908,500 in kickbacks and bribes to school officials in order to assure his company remains a supplier for area schools.

The feds say the 13 indicted school officials steered millions in business to Shy’s company in exchange for cash kickbacks and favors. Worse, authorities charge that some of the principals submitted sham invoices for the supplies and paid Shy’s company even though said supplies were never delivered.

The administrator charged, Clara Flowers, an assistant superintendent of DPS’s Office of Specialized Student Services, is accused of acting as a fixer between Mr. Shy and the Detroit school principals. According to the paper, Flowers had the responsibility to choose the district’s vendors for such things as workbooks, maps, and other items.

Court documents allege Shy paid Flowers in gift cards and even paid for repairs to her home. One such company did gutter work and painting at the woman’s home, federal officials say.

The charges come as the state legislature is struggling to address the $515 million budget shortfall hitting the Detroit Public School System.

But this isn’t the first time a Detroit Public Schools official has been indicted on charges of taking bribes to award out contracts.

Ex-Detroit principal Kenyetta Wilbourn Snapp, once hailed as a school and budget reformer, pleaded guilty to taking $58,050 in bribes in exchange for contracts. She faces up to 46 months in prison.

Snapp was ordered to pay back a portion of the bribes and will be sentenced in June.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.