Supt. Charles Flowers has yet to make a public statement. Anything made public so far looks bad, very bad.
Investigators raided the home and office of the Cook County regional schools superintendent Wednesday, carting out laptop computers, cell phones and boxes of files, sources said.
Officials with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office confirmed that they have launched a criminal investigation into Supt. Charles Flowers’ office. The Westchester office handles teacher certification and safety inspections for suburban Cook County schools.
The investigation comes after a scathing state audit that found Flowers’ office was nearly $1 million in debt after, among other irregularities, he made personal charges on an office credit card and gave a $6,000 advance to a relative he hired to work for him.
The office was in such disarray that county commissioners lent it $190,000 last year to make ends meet. It has not been repaid.
Flowers, who was elected in 2006, could not be reached for comment.
Remember, innocent until proven guilty.
But this looks bad. And you bet there’s more to this story.
Of 40 credit card purchases Flowers made, 16 were for personal items, the audit found. Among the purchases, Holland noted, were airline tickets to fly Flowers’ family members to Mississippi. He also withdrew $6,669 in cash advances on the credit card while in Illinois and Mississippi, ostensibly to purchase a vehicle and furniture for the regional office.
But Holland’s auditors found no evidence of the vehicle or furniture. And auditors could not verify Flowers’ claim that he repaid those advances from personal funds.
Cook County Commissioner Lawrence Suffredin said he intended to ask Alvarez’s office to “siphon off and collect any funds we can find” from the regional office to ensure repayment of the $190,000 Cook County loan.
“Anything in education and dealing with children should be our best examples of government, and obviously this is not,” Suffredin said.
We need to keep an eye on this.