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Board: No confidence in regional schools supt.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
ABC 7 Chicago

June 16, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A state audit found Charles Flowers used money approved for his office for personal means.

The findings have commissioners calling for a criminal investigation into how Regional Schools Superintendent Flowers used his department's money.

The department issues teacher certificates and approves budgets in smaller suburban school districts. When Flowers took the job, he said he wanted to ferret out corruption. Board members suggest he should have looked in the mirror.

"This is flagrant corruption at its most heightened," said Elizabeth Gorman, Cook County Board member.

The board expressed no confidence in Flowers, calling on him to resign and calling for a criminal investigation into the office based on the findings of an auditor general report last week that said he has a $1 million deficit; maintained a large cash advance for his administrative assistant, who happens to be his sister; and used his office credit card 16 times on personal items, including airline tickets and cash advances for new office furniture the auditor could not find.

"I believe Dr. Flowers should resign," said Larry Suffredin, Cook County Board member.

Last year the board approved a $90,000 loan to Flowers at his request, an embarrassment to the members. The loan was to be paid back this month.

Gorman was the only board member who voted against it. She wonders if they'll get that money back.

"There has been no response. The administration did reach out to talk about repayment of the loan and there's been nothing, no response," said Gorman.

Board members say Flowers has not returned their calls. On Tuesday, his officer said he was not in.

"He's unavailable. He's at an outside meeting right now," said one of Flowers' workers.

Flowers called ABC7 later Tuesday afternoon. He declined an invitation for an on-camera interview, but said he was not going to resign because there is work to be done. He said he has already paid back the questionable cash advances- and did so before the auditor's report came out. He confirmed that his office will not be able to pay back the loan by June 30 as expected, but said he has been in regular contact with the Cook County Board President's Office to arrange an extension and new terms for the loan.

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