Dukes, special education teacher in Prince George’s, being placed on leave

A special education teacher in Prince George’s County is being placed on administrative leave after school officials learned Wednesday that he pleaded guilty to overbilling the District for bus rides that his company never provided to students.

Donnie Dukes, who previously worked as a compliance officer in the District and operated a student transportation business, admitted on Wednesday that he charged the city for $300,000 worth of rides that were never given.

Dukes, who also previously worked as a principal of Options Public Charter School, was hired in Prince George’s in August 2012. Dukes works at Parkdale High School in Riverdale Park, school officials said.

Robert Gaskin, the director of human resources for Prince George’s County schools, said Thursday that the school system was in the process of putting Dukes on administrative leave pending an investigation into his previous work history and “what he informed us upon his hire.”

After working at Options, court papers say, Dukes became a compliance officer for the District’s public school system in 2008. He was responsible for arranging transportation for special-needs students who receive educational services outside D.C.

In October, the D.C. attorney general filed a civil complaint alleging that three Options managers and others created a contracting scheme to divert more than $3 million from the school to two for-profit companies they founded. Those allegations have led to a criminal investigation.

Dukes’s plea agreement, which includes a cooperation provision, suggests that he is helping federal investigators in their criminal examination of Options.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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