DeKalb County schools: Cars and credibility now in question

Maureen Downey:

Clearly, the great car deals that DeKalb school officials arranged for themselves were wrong. As the AJC reports in an exclusive investigation:

Patricia “Pat” Pope, whose involvement in multimillion-dollar school construction projects is under investigation by county authorities, purchased a black 2005 Ford Explorer from the school district for $5,442 — about one-third the car’s market value at the time, according to county documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Pope also asked the county’s maintenance department to overhaul the car with new tires and a paint job before she bought it, according to a state agency that investigated the purchase. The department did about $2,500 worth of work on the car.
The arrangement appears similar to a 2007 car purchase by DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis. Pope also played a major role in that transaction, documents show.
The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts investigated both purchases and determined that the difference between the price Pope and Lewis paid for the vehicles and the cars’ fair market values amounted to a “gratuity,” or extra compensation, which Georgia law forbids.