CPS employees accused of misusing gift cards should pay restitution, Daiber says
Chicago Public Schools employees who allegedly "stole or misappropriated" school-purchased gift cards need to pay that money back, Bob Daiber, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said during a recent interview.
"They should pay the funds back as restitution," Daiber told the Metro East Sun.
Daiber, who has been Madison County regional superintendent of schools since 2007, said incentive gift cards are purchased for some students in that district but that checks are in place to prevent the sort of gift-card scandal that is unwinding in Chicago.
Daiber, a Marine resident, in February announced his bid for the Democratic Party's nomination to run against incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. The former state representative was a public school teacher for almost three decades and has served on the Madison County Board, as Marine Township supervisor and on the Marine Village Board. In October, he announced his running mate for the 2018 nomination will be Chicago social worker Jonathan W. Todd.
Chicago Public Schools employees spent more than $250,000 on almost 7,500 gift cards over a three-year period, at least allegedly in part to circumvent the district's no-petty-cash policy, according to a recent report. Some cards were issued by Target, iTunes and other retailers as family incentives while others were for "large dollar amount" Visa, MasterCard or American Express gift cards, the report said.
"CPS personnel stole or misappropriated a portion of these gift cards," the report said. "As such, the OIG has not only recommended administrative discipline, but also referred these cases to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office for additional investigation and possible criminal prosecution."
The 75-page annual report for fiscal 2017 was released Jan. 1 by the Office of the Inspector General (IOG) of Chicago Public Schools and included a section called "Theft at CPS Involving Gift Cards Used as Petty Cash." The annual report described almost 1,500 complaints about alleged misconduct, waste, fraud and financial mismanagement during fiscal 2017, but only a fraction of those complaints could be investigated.
Some Madison County school students receive similar gift cards, Daiber said.
"They served as good rewards at our alternative school and for homeless students," he said.
Daiber said he was aware of the sort of fraud reported in Chicago but has taken steps to prevent it from happening in Madison County Schools.
"I put control measures in place to audit the gift cards issued," he said.
And those steps will remain in place, Daiber said.
"I will continue with set purchasing amounts and distribution times," he said.