The Daily Southtown has uncovered the fact that Flowers has not paid his office space rent. The regional schools boss currently under criminal investigation for misusing school money owes nearly $20,000 in back rent for educational office space, documents show.
Only once this year has Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education - headed by Supt. Charles Flowers - paid rent to Westchester Public School District 92 1 / 2 , according to documents received from the district through a Freedom of Information Act request.
From July 2008 to June 2009, Flowers' office should have paid $41,150 for the space at 10110 Gladstone Street in Westchester, which is leased from the school district. It has only made good on $24,004. The regional office shares the building with MacNeal School, a private school affiliated with MacNeal Hospital that services special education students, which also rents from the district.
The more than $17,000 lapse in payment has former Regional Supt. Bob Ingraffia wondering if District 92 1 / 2 's school board will initiate eviction proceedings.
"Taxpayers don't like to see the district losing money," said Ingraffia, who lost his re-election bid to Flowers in 2006.
Board president Barbara Stanger declined to comment on whether the board was taking action to recoup the cash.
"I really don't want to comment on anything at this time that, I believe, is being investigated," Stanger said.
District 92 1 / 2 Supt. Jean Sophie was not in the office Thursday, but has previously refused to comment on anything relating to Flowers' office.
Flowers did not return multiple messages left for him.
During Ingraffia's tenure, the office typically paid rent in advance, which was usually one lump sump annually, he said.
"That was so we made sure we would have a roof over our head," Ingraffia said.
Flowers' rent schedule was more sporadic. Often, he would pay on a monthly basis. There were times, however, he would miss a payment ---like September and October 2007 - and would supplement with two payments the next month, documents reveal. Monthly rent for 2008 was $3,300 and $3,429 in 2009.
The SouthtownStar first reported last week that Flowers was the target of a Cook County state's attorney investigation. A two-month SouthtownStar investigation revealed Flowers padded the office payroll with friends and family, charged thousands of dollars in personal expenses and cash advances to his work credit card and more than doubled the office's debt to nearly $1 million dollars. A troubling state audit officially released earlier this month confirmed those findings.
Last year, the Cook County Board approved a $190,000 for Flowers' office. Commissioners have questioned his ability to repay the loan, which is due Tuesday.
Duaa Eldeib can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (708) 633-5960.