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Social Security Fraud in the Classroom

A Dallas scandal takes corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement to a new level.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.


November 20, 2008 - 12:00 am
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As someone who spent five years writing for the Dallas Morning News, I’m excruciatingly well acquainted with the Dallas Independent School District. Reporters with a taste for corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement see the scandal-ridden school district as a cornucopia of goodies.

There was the former superintendent who, in the late 1990s, used district money to buy furniture and wound up decorating a cell in federal prison. Last year, a similar scam surfaced involving lower-level officials who went on shopping sprees with district credit cards racking up thousands of transactions for personal items. And this year, after a colossal accounting error, district officials wound up having to lay off hundreds of teachers.

So until recently, if asked, I might have said I’d seen it all. Happily, I stand corrected.

Now the Dallas school district is coping with a scandal that could result in fines and prison time for multiple parties who had their hands in something that has the makings of a full-out criminal enterprise. What’s more, the latest scandal touches several cultural hot buttons at once: immigration, language, affirmative action, and bilingual education. Bundle them all together, and you get an idea for what’s happening in the Dallas school district.

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