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DeKalb colleges spent over 100 occasions extra CARES Act cash on bonuses than some neighboring districts – WSB-TV Channel 2

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — An investigation by Channel 2 Motion Information has discovered that DeKalb County college officers spent vastly extra federal CARES Act cash on worker bonuses than another metro college districts.

In a single case, DeKalb’s spending for bonuses was greater than 100 occasions that of a neighboring district.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher broke the story that DeKalb spent $86.3 million of CARES Act cash on direct worker bonuses, or dietary supplements as college officers name them.

That prompted inquiries from viewers about different districts.

Tips reviewed by Channel 2 Motion Information present that bills of CARES cash are allowable if they’re “immediately associated to prevention, preparedness and response to COVID-19.”

DeKalb informed Channel 2 Motion Information its wage dietary supplements met all federal necessities and have been crucial to preserving the district’s workforce in place in the course of the pandemic.

Three different metro Atlanta college districts took very totally different paths with the lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} that flooded in from Washington.

DeKalb’s $86.3 million on wage dietary supplements went to greater than 10,500 staff — from high-level directors to crossing guards (then-superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris didn’t obtain any additional pay.)

We estimate that’s almost 17.7% of the entire allotted to DeKalb.

Fulton County Colleges spent $23 million on dietary supplements. That’s 8.8% of Fulton’s CARES cash.

Atlanta spent simply $11.5 million on workers wage dietary supplements, 3.7% of its federal allocation.

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Among the many districts Channel 2 Motion Information checked with, Gwinnett colleges — the most important college district in Georgia — has been the least possible to make use of CARES cash for wage dietary supplements. It spent $9 million {dollars} on incentives to encourage staff to get COVID-19 vaccinations however solely $810,000 for direct dietary supplements.

We estimate that’s 0.25% of the cash allotted to Gwinnett.

DeKalb’s $86.3 million was about 107 occasions what Gwinnett spent on wage dietary supplements.

“One thing shouldn’t be proper,” says Marion Payne of the great authorities group Restore DeKalb.

Payne informed Belcher the $86 million determine made him consider situations inside so many DeKalb colleges — as just lately documented by college students at Druid Hills Excessive.

“They (district officers) may have began with Druid Hills and Clarkston Excessive Colleges. These two colleges are in unhealthy restore,” Payne stated.

“It was handled as this fountain of free cash that they will simply unfold as far and as large as they needed to,” stated Dunwoody resident Kirk Lunde, who intently tracks spending by the college district.

He blames the huge spending on bonuses or dietary supplements on what he calls “the tradition of the central workplace.”

“In Dekalb County, there’s the idea — and it’s vocalized by some board of training members — that the college district is a jobs program,” Lunde informed Belcher.

The dietary supplements have been paid whereas Cheryl Watson-Harris was superintendent. The varsity board fired her April 26 with out stating a purpose, however Channel 2 Motion Information has not uncovered any proof that the dietary supplements performed a job in her firing.

Nonetheless, now we have reported that state auditors are presently reviewing how DeKalb dealt with its $486 million in CARES cash.

The DeKalb Board of Training requested an investigation of a number of points together with CARES cash earlier this 12 months.

The investigation was carried out by a non-public agency headed by a retired FBI agent.

Amongst its conclusions was {that a} high official in Watson-Harris’s cupboard accredited CARES bonuses with out correctly checking with Watson-Harris.

The report stated one other cupboard official ought to have alerted her to the issue.

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