The report contains many critical conclusions, including concerns about the misuse of employee bonuses in the form of overtime or extra-duty allowances.
Audit Discovers Abuse of ‘Extra Pay’ in Chicago Public Schools
As stated by a 2023 report from the district’s Office of Inspector General, Chicago Public Schools spent 77% of the $1.49 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds on the salaries and benefits of employees. With this, the district has seen a significant increase in the “extra pay” during the pandemic.
This report has been able to provide critical conclusions which led to the inclusion of the concern over the abuse of extra pay for employees in the form of overtime or stipends for taking on extra duties. This has become noticeable due to the significantly high increase in the cost of extra pay for district employees from $42.5 million in 2017 to $73.9 million in 2021.
To mask chronic absenteeism, there was also widespread fraud by “deliberately miscoding” truant students as transfers. The Office of the Inspector General said called into question the district’s reported attendance and graduation rates.
It was also capitalized in the report which gave examples of a practice called “buddy punching,” where one school district employee clocks in an absent colleague as working.
Widespread Fraud Discovered: Chicago Public Schools in Question
As stated by JustTheNews, the report stated that there is a situation in one school where colleagues punched in a teacher’s ID number on days when the teacher stayed home from summer school.
According to the Office of the Inspector General, in response to these incidents, the school district officials say they have not had the staffing to check if the corrective action policies were actually implemented due to a lack of staffing.
On June 28, 2022 the Office of Inspector General outlined 10 findings and 10 recommendations on how to address abuse of the Extra Pay Rules and requested a corrective action plan from Chicago Public Schools by August 9. As a response, Chicago Public Schools sent a memo promising various actions, most of which it said would be explained in a November 30 Integrity Memo. However, the OIG later found that the November 30 Integrity Memo left several areas of concern unaddressed.