3 DeKalb school employees paid while being investigated

DECATUR, Ga. --- Three school officials in DeKalb County have been paid more than $300,000 while they were targets of a criminal investigation into school construction contracts, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.

The newspaper reported that the three employees did little or no work during the time for which they were being paid, and at least one was paid this week while in jail.

Former Superintendent Crawford Lewis was given $100,000 in taxpayer money for his legal defense when he was terminated in April. He also received four months of additional pay for leaving, the newspaper reported.

Patricia Reid, the former chief operating officer, became the district's highest-paid official when Lewis left and is still receiving pay and benefits.

Cointa Moody, Reid's assistant, who was paid $92,000 in 2009, was fired Friday after the Journal-Constitution began asking questions about her status.

The newspaper reported that Reid has been paid $115,266 since being reassigned from chief operating officer to "special projects" Oct. 22. A spokesman for the district said her duties include heading the district's green initiatives and "any additional assignments deemed necessary." School staff said Reid comes to work only about two days a week. Her annual salary is more than $197,000 a year.

Moody made about $53,000 since October, when she was told to continue serving as Reid's assistant. She had no other duties, school staff said. Moody was indicted on theft charges for taking $42,000 in overtime from July 2008 to June 2009, when she was running personal errands for Reid.

Board Chairman Tom Bowen said the district's employment policies and contracts prohibited it from taking immediate action against Reid, and her attorney said Friday she expects to return to work Tuesday.

School officials said they don't know where Reid will sit at work or what she will do because conditions of her bond prohibit her from having any contact with witnesses, including many school administrators.

Reid and Pope were released from jail Friday afternoon, both on a $400,000 bond. Lewis and Moody were released Wednesday night, each on a $200,000 bond.

Probe pending

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits DeKalb and most school systems in the Southeast, said Friday it is looking into the indictments. The group revoked the accreditation of Clayton County schools in 2008.

"We have made no decision yet, but significant questions need answers," President and CEO Mark A. Elgart told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Elgart said it is rare to see a school employee remain on the job after being indicted.

-- Associated Press