DeKalb County law enforcement officials raided the home of school district Superintendent Crawford Lewis and several district offices Feb. 25 in search of documents related to a months-long investigation in alleged construction contract tampering.
It was unclear what documents police and District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming were searching for. Fleming released a statement hours after the raid, which included Lewis’ Stone Mountain home, two district buildings on North Decatur Road and the district’s Sam Moss building in Tucker.
“This is all part of an ongoing investigation which was started at the request of the school system’s administration. After reviewing the information we gathered today, we anticipate bringing this matter to an appropriate conclusion,” she said.
District officials and school board Chairman Thomas Bowen did not immediately return several phone calls. Board member H. Paul Womack declined to comment.
News vans gathered outside the district’s North Decatur Road headquarters hours after the raid, and county police were stationed in the system’s parking lots, questioning people approaching the building.
The district has scheduled an emergency closed-door meeting to discuss the investigation at 4:30 p.m. It also canceled a budget meeting scheduled for Feb. 26 during which Lewis planned to present heavy budget cut options to resolve next year’s projected shortfall of more than $80 million.
“I’m totally in the dark, and I would like for somebody to help me understand what is going on,” school board member Gene Walker said. “It’s not good for the system. It’s impairing our efforts right now.”
Pat Pope, the district’s chief operations officer, has been the subject of a county investigation into contracting irregularities, and investigators seized documents from a district building in Tucker where she works on Oct. 13. The office of her husband, Anthony Pope, an architect who has designed several county schools, was also searched.
The school board voted in November to give the majority of Pope’s responsibilities to two other construction management firms to protect its building programs from further controversy. Pope, however, did not lose her job, and her contract ends in June.