The school superintendent for one of the smaller districts in Illinois was about to retire with a $1.7 million dollar buyout, in addition to his $400,000 yearly compensation. His district has only 1,100 students. Luckily for taxpayers, Dane Placko, an investigative reporter for WFLD in Chicago, confronted the school board. “All I know is that if we hadn’t gone down there and confronted the board about this contract and this payout that he was due, I don’t think anyone who had the capacity to actually look into it would have asked any questions.”
Yet he oversaw one of the smallest school districts, Calumet City, with just 1,100 students and three schools.
“It just seemed crazy on the face of it,” said Dane Placko, a reporter for WFLD, the Fox O&O in Chicago.
And if his salary wasn’t crazy enough, after 13 years, he was about to retire with a cash-out of $1.7 million for unused vacation and sick days — until Placko began asking questions at a Calumet City school board meeting.
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“Nobody in Calumet City seemed to know about this, least of all the board of education, which you think would. I wait until they get the public comments section of the board meeting and I step up and ask the questions of the board. I asked how they could justify the size of the contract given the small size of the district. I asked whether they knew about this huge windfall he was about to receive upon his retirement.”
Placko said his questions were met with blank stares from the board members, but the parents and teachers there at the meeting were mortified.
“They had no idea this was coming.”
Click here to see Placko’s first report or click on the Twitter link below.
After Placko’s first story aired, the city attorney for the board began her own investigation which discovered some irregularities by Dr. Paraday.
“That started a criminal investigation which is now being conducted by the Cook County sheriff’s police,” said Placko.
Placko can’t say with certainty that all of this would have been discovered had it not been for his investigation.
“All I know is that if we hadn’t gone down there and confronted the board about this contract and this payout that he was due, I don’t think anyone who had the capacity to actually look into it would have asked any questions.”
Paraday was fired by the Calumet City school board, saving the taxpayers of Calumet City over $1 million.
Click here to see Placko’s last report or click on the Twitter link below.
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“One of the things I love about this business is a lot of the stories you do are interesting stories or relevant on a day to day basis, but it’s very unusual that you have an opportunity to really effectuate change and save the tax payers some serious money,” said Placko.
And, Placko added. he’s just getting started.
“One of the things we want to do going forward is examine what the state is doing in the Illinois state board of education which has the authority to oversee some of this to make sure that these contracts aren’t being abused and these cash payouts aren’t being abused.”