DA stages early morning search of DeKalb school superintendent’s home. Why?

So why is the DeKalb County District Attorney searching  DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis’ home?  In an AJC exclusive this morning, we learn that investigators came to his home this morning armed with a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into multimillion-dollar school construction projects.

To get up to speed, please look at the recent AJC update on the allegations surrounding school construction manager Pat Pope’s actions in regard to her husband’s firm.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Tony Pope, an architect, worked on three of the six multimillion-dollar construction projects being investigated by the authorities.

Pope and Lewis have appeared adversaries in this ongoing drama, so it is unclear now why the investigation has turned to Lewis or why the DA felt compelled to go to his home as well as his office.

Please remember that the school system and DA’s office crossed swords not along ago when the system balked at turning over some information that the district attorney wanted. This may have been a strong rebuke to that foot-dragging by the system. In January, we reported then that the DeKalb County investigators filed an Open Records Act request that the school system rejected, citing attorney-client privilege.

At the time, District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming said,  “The information we’re seeking is public record.” She said she found the school system’s rejection of the request “curious.” Maybe, she also found it annoying and this is her way of letting them know.

None of this is helpful at a time when the system is facing unprecedented financial woes. (I am going to a hearing tonight where hundreds of parents are expected to challenge possible school closings in DeKalb.)

There is a lot going on in DeKalb. This mess does not help. But it does reflect a lesson I learned early on as a reporter. Major projects – especially in construction and technology – deserve close scrutiny because there is so much detail, so much money and so little expertise among most school boards. There is ample opportunity for misspending.

According to the breaking news story now:

The DeKalb district attorney’s office served a search warrant at Lewis’  home in the Southland subdivision around 7:30 this morning. About 40 minutes later, investigators showed up at the DeKalb school headquarters on Decatur Road with a second search warrant.

The AJC was the only news organization on the scene as nine police officers and a prosecutor descended on Lewis’ home. A surprised Lewis, dressed in shirt and tie, opened the door and allowed the officers in. Several neighbors came out and asked officers what was going on and were told to avoid the area.

The district attorney’s office has been investigating construction projects in DeKalb schools. It’s unclear what searchers were looking for in Lewis’ home.

A spokesman for the district attorney did not immediately return phone calls and lion the scene declined to comment.

Dale Davis, Lewis’ spokesman, said he was unaware of the search or the reasons for it. “I don’t know. Call the DA,” he told the AJC.

79 comments Add your comment

cj

February 25th, 2010
9:22 am

Write Your Board Members

February 25th, 2010
9:30 am

Maureen

Can you find out how the AJC knew that the raid was happening?

I am sure that this has to do with the Pope investigation. Unfortunately, as a DeKalb taxpayer, I suspect that at the end of the day, the DA will find that Pope did nothing criminal (though she certainly didn’t behave ethically) and so neither did Lewis or the Board.

chana paige

February 25th, 2010
9:47 am

KARMA is B&#@$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MOBFIGURE

February 25th, 2010
9:56 am

Crawford Lewis’ home and office was raided because the DA’s office discovered that Crawford Lewis is involved in the bid rigging investigation. Additionally, DA Flemming should also raid Ronald Ramsey’s office. I assure you, you will find compelling evidence. Also, Jay Cunningham should be investigated. Mr. Cunningham’s business is providing pre-game meals to the Southwest Dekalb football team for a very lucrative fee.

DeKalb Mom

February 25th, 2010
10:06 am

Not acting in the best interest of children should be criminal. DCSS is so corrupt. Gwen Keyes should be our hero.

Clarkston Cheat Center

February 25th, 2010
10:13 am

Is this raid a ruse or is it for real? It’s not as though ole Crawford Lewis did not know that he was within the investigative sphere. If you will lie about a golf score, you will lie about anything. I heard an old man say this when I was a teenager. So true. If you will shut down a teacher grievance before it even gets off the ground (in flagrant violation of the State Code), then you will lie and cheat and cover up anything, in my opinion. “Be sure [that] your sins will find you out.” — Louise (Lillie) Shackelford Frazier. We all stand in the need of grace.

Hey, It's Enrico Pallazzo!

February 25th, 2010
10:20 am

Maureen, Do you know if anything was taken from his home?

GovClintonTyree

February 25th, 2010
10:30 am

Good lord. Is every public servant in this God-forsaken county on the take?

Stack o' $$$ w Googly Eyes

February 25th, 2010
10:30 am

Shhhhhhh, I’m under Crawford’s mattress. Don’t tell the Po’ Po’.

Gasolinegate - Crawford Lewis, OIR, Ramsey

February 25th, 2010
10:41 am

All the money was spent on gasoline which gets two miles per gallon. It takes three fill-ups in one day to keep Crawdaddy going! OIR, where are you? Hey Ronald Ramsey, Robin Goolsby, et al., investigate Crawford Lewis and talk down to him like you guys apparently like to talk down to teachers who may have been falsely accused by a crazy parent. Hmm. Do you think a teacher in DeKalb would last one minute if the Police showed up at his or her residence and classroom in the wee hours of the morning? I believe that the crowd over at the Office of Internal “Resolutions” (OIR) would suspend this teacher immediately and start talking down to that teacher while the teacher waits interminably, silently in a chair at OIR.

Knows Better

February 25th, 2010
10:42 am

Whatever is found will surely be swept under the rug. Crawford Lewis is a disgrace for many reasons. This is but one of them.

Dr. John Trotter

February 25th, 2010
10:43 am

Josie Alexander: Aren’t you going to save Crawford Lewis?

Alecia

February 25th, 2010
11:03 am

Dekalb’s tax dollars at work. Where were they before all of the money was mis-spent? Now they want to raise taxes. For what, to fund more corruption?

Dunwoody Mom

February 25th, 2010
11:10 am

How did Tim Eberly know there was going to be a raid at Dr. Lewis’ home this morning? Maureen, can you answer this? How deeply “in bed” is the AJC with the DeKalb DA’s office on this? Have journalistic principles gone by the wayside in the Tim Eberly’s reporting of the DA’s investigation?

South-End Mom

February 25th, 2010
11:32 am

Okay does it take a genius to know that if you have a scanner that you will know the where abouts of the the police. Dunwoody Mom that is common knowledge to the media to have the scanner on to be the first one on the scene. Leave it to the professional to find the case. Good job Eberly on keeping us up to date on this case as well as other news agencies. We appreciate knowing how our hard earn tax dollars are being spent!

computer hard drives

February 25th, 2010
11:33 am

why havent the GBI and the DA or the SAG gotten a search warrant for the districts that are involved in erasergate and picked up Hall’s computer and all emails sent between principals and the supes office?

DunMoody

February 25th, 2010
11:33 am

Eugene Walker dismisses this as a ‘distraction’ from doing school business. Excuse me! If DCSS and the School Board had tended to business ethically and effectively, Dr. Lewis may not have enjoyed this special wake-up visit.

Ernest

February 25th, 2010
11:34 am

Dunwoody Mom asks a good question, how did the AJC know about the raid before the search warrant was executed? Is this standard operating procedure to notify the media before an action like this?

Maureen Downey

February 25th, 2010
11:39 am

Ernest and Dunwoody Mom. Not sure, although it is not unusual for media following a story as closely as Tim has been to get tips. He has been on this for a long time. I will ask. But South-end mom is also correct that police scanners are a source of much of the breaking cop news.
Maureen

Do your own research

February 25th, 2010
11:40 am

I personally can’t beleive no one in this area have heard of police scanners…..any citizen can own one and do the exact same thing as the ajc or tmz and radaronline for instance….news is news and it sells……Open records allow any citizen to get information form court documents…….This Eberly guy has not invented the wheel, he’s just provided some info for those of us who don’t visit the courthouse. Everyone knows things are heating up with DCSS for goodness sake the trial is about to begin in a few days….why wouldn’t the heat be on…Once the trial starts the DA had better have all their ducks in a row if they plan to hold on to the case they are building……JMO

Clean Sweep Needed

February 25th, 2010
11:42 am

Can Delkalb County get a “Do-Over”? Is there anyway, anyhow that Dekalb can hire someone who will roll up their sleeves, work hard and try to help this school system? This would require, of course, some input from an independent committee who really knows how to interview and hire someone…. the Dekalb School Board doesn’t count….they aren’t qualified! Geez! Between all this drama and the obsession with data collection (too much testing) I am thankful I send my children to private schools! I’ve had to make other sacrifices (vacations, limited dinners out, coupon cutting) to do this but the long run investment in my children’s education is worth it. When the county can get their act together I will send my children and their high IOWA scores to their schools. How soon can we get rid of C. L.?

Reality Check

February 25th, 2010
11:45 am

Where’s there’s smoke, there’s usually a fire…….I’d say they wouldn’t be looking if something’s not cooking…….It’s time to change Superintendents…..the one presently occupying that office has done an absolutely sorry job…..just look at the state of DeKalb’s Schools…..if we don’t watch out, they’ll go the way of Clayton’s and the APS.

GovClintonTyree

February 25th, 2010
10:30 am
Good lord. Is every public servant in this God-forsaken county on the take?

Probably…..

DunMoody

February 25th, 2010
11:46 am

Every time a private school parent posts, they talk about sacrifices to pay those tuition bills. Don’t underestimate the financial sacrifices of parents living with job loss, healthcare bills, property taxes that don’t reflect the sales value of a home, and other debt to pay the TAXES necessary to have their children in public school. Private school isn’t an option for most people. Doesn’t mean we aren’t good parents willing to make sacrifices. Just means we’re in the hot seat and working hard to make public schools work.

Just saying.

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

February 25th, 2010
11:51 am

WOW!!! This is better than “The WIRE”. High drama indeed…I wonder what the kids think about all of this.

Dr. John Trotter

February 25th, 2010
11:51 am

I bet the DeKalb County Board of Education now regrets that (1) it did not ask Dr. Jim Williams, retired Deputy Superintendent, to be the Superintendent following Johnny Brown and (2) it did not keep the law firm of Weekes & Candler which had represented the school board for nearly 40 years. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Just Sayin'

February 25th, 2010
11:57 am

Here here, DunMoody. I think the same thing when a private school parent posts. I’ve been President of our PTA, an in-room volunteer, AND my husband & I work full-time but MAKE time to support BOTH our elementary and middle school student. Sacrifice, shmacrifice.

catlady

February 25th, 2010
12:24 pm

Maybe they are looking for trip logs?

Seriously, who would be dumb enough to keep bid rigging information at your house? Oh, yeah…

Maybe Luckovich can draw a picture of a patient bleeding out, along with the superintendent directing traffic and asking people to “move along, there is no story here.”

former

February 25th, 2010
12:40 pm

Sadly, it’s not just Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope who are corrupt, unqualified idiots who only care about the money in their pockets. The School Board is no better- interesting that many of their friends, family, mistresses, etc. somehow end up working for DCSS. Nepotism in its purest form. School officials and administrators have been way overpaid and underqualified for years. Do something you shouldn’t have done? They’ll just transfer you and give you a pay raise. Too bad this current investigation is only scratching the surface of wasted taxpayer dollars. This administration deserves what’s coming to them and more. I hope they all go down in flames.

tax payer dekalb

February 25th, 2010
12:44 pm

Maureen Downey -
Great job. Since you’re looking into the DeKalb situation, look into what ALL the senior male personnel at the county office have in common. They were ALL members of the same fraternity in college – the same can be said of many of the male principals and assistant principals. It is a not very well kept secret that in order to advance through the organization, you have to have the same fraternal ties.

Why? I don’t know why. But I can tell you in light of everything that is happening that it stinks to high heaven. These people are corrupt and they are in league with one another.

Avondale Advocate

February 25th, 2010
12:47 pm

There are photos that back this up on Facebook (find Dave Green and friend him to see them) – and they are shocking! All this is going on while there are kids put into compromising conditions… student athletes not having a weight room? (and Mr. Lewis was a PE Teacher!) Kids having to pull weights out of a storage bin and work out in a parking lot? A band taken from a first class facility and shoved into the balcony of a gym with instruments piled on top of each other? (the band room situation has been fixed by now, but it should never have happened!)

Economicwoes

February 25th, 2010
12:53 pm

If Dekalb follows Gwinnett, all the data will have been deleted off their hard drives, and the tech. staff who did the dead will all be given $5,000 raises. I think its time central office staff at all systems understand some D.A.’s can be tough. Danny Porter is horrible, Alvin’s a white guy and thats all Danny cares about. No joke, accusations of constructions mismanagement are met with promotions. If you need someone to delete pertinent records,hire in your friends son who was already been fired for stealing from his previous employer, it all makes sense if your ALvin.

Cammi317

February 25th, 2010
1:03 pm

I logged on this morning right after the story broke and I laughed all the way to my daughter’s school and from there to my office. I don’t think that I have laughed so hard about local politics since I did the day I realized that Vernon was out for good!

[...] the investigation into some contract irregularities by administrators in the school system. A quick synopsis from AJC blogger Maureen Downey. Then there was this bit about layoffs at the central office to [...]

Just a Suggestion

February 25th, 2010
1:34 pm

The DA needs to look into the contracts for security systems and the shell companies fronted to collect the cash. Why did the same schools get “security system upgrades” from SPLOST I funding and SPLOST II funding? Same equipment, same schools, different providing companies who happen to be owned by the same individuals.

Ole Guy

February 25th, 2010
1:37 pm

TSK TSK TSK!

catlady

February 25th, 2010
2:50 pm

Economic woes: did the dead! I love it. I know it was a typo, but I love it!

Interested Parent

February 25th, 2010
3:07 pm

The journalist that wrote this article is a bit too opinionated. Stick to the news and leave your opinion out. Crawford Lewis and others should be investigated when millions of dollars are unaccounted for and schools can barely buy paper.

DeKalb Mom

February 25th, 2010
3:43 pm

@Dunwoody MOM…I guess your kid’s name was pulled in the Lottery to get into the Magnet program and your other kid goes to the new school in your area. How about leaving Dunwoody every once in a while to find out what real life is like.

Private School Guy

February 25th, 2010
4:14 pm

Now are we ready to start a recall of the school board?

Rhee fan

February 25th, 2010
4:44 pm

Once again, I vote to bring over Michelle Rhee from DC schools.

I hope the DCSS BOE has put the call into the search firm to begin looking for CL’s replacement.

Lee

February 25th, 2010
6:02 pm

The fact that the DA showed up with armed deputies speaks volumes.

Jabberwocky

February 25th, 2010
6:26 pm

OMG….Over and over and over again.
I was employed by DCSS for 32 years. Even back when it had a spotless reputation and ranked pretty high on the national “Lists”, [whatever that may mean.] Both of my kids graduated from Dekalb high schools, and were well prepared for college AND medical school. I watched as it was taken over by total incompetents….people with backgrounds only in PE and non academics..with little actualy time in the classromm…. and/or online degrees [Phd.'s,EdS.] finished in a matter of months…and neptoism and ,as previously mentioned, FRATERNITY brothers…whether college frats or other.
Now, I would do anything possible to prevent my grandchildren from attending Dekalb schools.
CORRUPT…..CALAMITY….CATASTROPHE!!!! So I , retired though I am, would work 2 jobs to contribute toward private school tuition.

Jabberwocky

February 25th, 2010
6:26 pm

caught in the monster filter AGAIN…

It's Me

February 25th, 2010
6:45 pm

@ Dr. Trotter – Dr. Jim Williams for Superintendent? Are you serious? He was lazy and would have been just as bad with his own agenda. Dr. Gary McGiboney should have been the Superintendent! He is the only person that has been a part of DCSS in the past ten years that TRULY cares about ALL children! He also treated every staff member with dignity and respect. Even though he is a white man he has a reputation of being fair to all. Not to mention he uses logic and common sense – which has been long lost in DCSS. SOMEONE FIND MCGIBONEY!!!!!!

to Rhee fan

February 25th, 2010
6:59 pm

Did you know that Rhee is being investigated for several things right now? A congressional investigation into her finance’s sex scandal is more than enough to leave her alone!

Super for 200 000-250 000

February 25th, 2010
7:37 pm

If they have to hire a superintendent for Dekalb County. They should only pay $200 000-$250 000 all benefits and perks included.

The man/woman should not only be competent but demonstrate his CARING for children by accepting this average salary.

This superintendent should have had valuable teaching experience in at least both high and elementary schools for at least 10 years in front of students.

Big bust

February 25th, 2010
7:51 pm

Rumor has it they found four kilos…of erasers.

Concerned Parent

February 25th, 2010
8:02 pm

Time for C Lewis to step aside while investigation continues. This is so sad. My 9 year old asked me today if this meant that he would not have to step through wet hallways whenever it rained? He asked if Dr. Lewis took gifts or bribes? I told him the DA would figure that out. Another name for this administration is the friends and family plan of Crawford Lewis.

5 years ago, An IT person, a son of a former BOE chairman, hid out at a school for weeks after being given a huge raise, a new job and never reported for it. He wasn’t even capable of fixing computers or printers! CL never knew it was happening until some parents met with him. WSB did a piece on that gentleman since that raise had to be approved by the BOE and never was until it was exposed. CL had some splaining to do back then and today he still does. ENOUGH!

It's Me

February 25th, 2010
8:09 pm

Someone please find Dr. Gary McGiboney!!!!!!

Barbara Coleman

February 25th, 2010
8:25 pm

It is time to erase the slate of board members and the corrupt heads in the county. In a system that did not make AYP, there are too many distractions that are blocking the path to student achievement. There are too many hands in too many pockets, and those involved in the corruption seem to care less about AYP.