The city has fired an employee who handled billing for the transportation of D.C. Public Schools children to non-public schools after allegations that she approved fraudulent payments to a transport company run by a friend.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education said Wednesday that an invoice-verification specialist was terminated about two weeks ago in relation to alleged overbilling, but agency spokesman Marc Caposino declined to identify the employee.
Two city government sources with knowledge of the dismissal identified the employee as Tracee M. Rhodes, who personnel records show was hired in 2008. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
She allegedly approved payments to Joyce Thomas Children’s Services, a Landover-based transport company that lists Donnie Dukes as its principal and branch manager in various company records.
Dukes did not immediately return an e-mail and phone call made through the company’s messaging system on Wednesday. Rhodes could not be reached.
In September, OSSE received information that the company’s invoices were padded, and an internal review led to the recent termination and referrals to the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of the Attorney General, the sources and city officials said.
The allegations involve $720,000 in total payments, said one of the sources. The source said the alleged overbilling could add up to a more than $200,000.
Rhodes and Dukes are believed to be in a relationship, said the sources. Personnel records show Dukes worked as a compliance specialist previously at OSSE. According to one of the sources, he stopped working at the city agency last year.
In addition to referrals to the attorney general and inspector general, state superintendent Hosanna Mahaley has ordered that a request for proposals be issued next week to find an independent auditor to review of the division that handles payments, said Caposino.