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Investigators raid home, office of Cook County regional schools superintendent
State audit had found fiscal problems in office run by Supt. Charles Flowers

Thursday, July 02, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Stephanie Banchero

Investigators raided the home and office of the Cook County regional schools superintendent Wednesday, carting out laptop computers, cell phones and boxes of files, sources said.

Officials with the Cook County state's attorney's office confirmed that they have launched a criminal investigation into Supt. Charles Flowers' office. The Westchester office handles teacher certification and safety inspections for suburban Cook County schools.

The investigation comes after a scathing state audit that found Flowers' office was nearly $1 million in debt after, among other irregularities, he made personal charges on an office credit card and gave a $6,000 advance to a relative he hired to work for him.

The office was in such disarray that county commissioners lent it $190,000 last year to make ends meet. It has not been repaid.

Flowers, who was elected in 2006, could not be reached for comment.

Commissioners are expected to vote Thursday on a resolution that demands his resignation and asks state lawmakers to abolish the office and transfer its duties to the state board of education.

"The authorities are doing the right thing," said Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park). "This office, under Flowers, has been of service to nobody but themselves. He ran that office like he won the lottery -- and it was at taxpayers' expense."

A bill was introduced in Springfield last week by a Republican state lawmaker that would abolish the Cook County regional office.

Last month, the state auditor general released a 75-page report that detailed 12 findings of financial mismanagement.


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