Thirteen Detroit Public School employees were charged with felonies in an illegal bribery and kickback scheme, the U.S. attorney's office announced Tuesday. The individuals included 12 current or former DPS principals and an assistant superintendent.

The U.S. attorney alleges that the DPS administrators submitted fake invoices to the school district for payments to a vendor for services that were never delivered. The vendor then used some of the money to pay the DPS employees involved in the scam, which went on from 2002 to 2015. The vendor received $2.7 million over that time, of which $908,518 was kicked back to the DPS administrators.

ForTheRecord says: Critics of charter schools complain that many are managed by for-profit organizations that supposedly put profits before schoolchildren. They also argue that charter schools, which educate about 10 percent of the state’s schoolchildren, need more oversight. Yet multiple high-paid officials at the non-profit DPS were able to run this scam for 13 years before it was uncovered.

Detroit was the most impoverished big city in the U.S. in 2015, according to U.S. Census. Detroit had a median household income of $26,095 from 2010-14.

And the 13 Detroit school officials who were charged were among the district's highest paid.

Clara Flowers, a former principal and current assistant superintendent, allegedly made $324,785 in the scam, the highest of any of the 13 involved. Flowers' annual salary was $121,375 in 2014-15, according to the state salary database.

Clara Smith, currently a principal at DPS, allegedly made $194,000 in the scam, the second-highest take. Smith had an annual salary of $116,532. Smith was principal of the district's Thirkell Elementary, which was the top-ranked school on the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's elementary and middle school report card in 2013.

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