PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Patrick L. Meehan and United States Department of Education Inspector General John P. Higgins, Jr., today announced the filing of an Indictment charging Curtis Andrews with six counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the Philadelphia School District.
According to the indictment, between May 2000 and June 2003, Andrews was the principal and chief administrative officer of the Center for Economics and Law ("CEL"), a charter school located in Philadelphia and operating within the Philadelphia School District (the "School District"). As a charter school operating within the School District, CEL was funded in part with public taxpayer dollars it received from the School District. The amount of funding CEL received from the School District depended upon the number of students attending CEL. Notably, the School District relied upon charter schools like CEL to report their enrollment information honestly and accurately so that these schools received the appropriate amount of funding.
As the principal of CEL, Andrews engaged in a scheme to defraud the School District by causing falsely inflated student enrollment data to be submitted to the School District, thereby causing the School District to provide funding to CEL to which CEL was not entitled. As Andrews knew, limitations in the School District's computer network prevented the School District from knowing that a student had left CEL, where that student had transferred to another school outside of the School District (such as a parochial school or a school outside of Philadelphia) or had dropped out of school altogether. Andrews exploited these limitations in the School District's computer network by directing his staff to report to the Network that students who had either transferred to another school outside of the School District, or dropped out of school altogether, continued to attend CEL, when in fact as Andrews knew, these students did not attend CEL. As a result of the defendant's scheme to defraud, the School District overpaid CEL approximately $200,000 in public education funds.
"Not only did he defraud the school district but he dragged his staff into his scheme," said Meehan. "These are public funds designed to improve the lives of young people through education. When the system is manipulated like this, students suffer and taxpayers are cheated."
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FORMER PHILADELPHIA CHARTER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL CHARGED WITH FRAUD, March 21, 2006, Investigative Report released by the U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania