Dept. of Education launches juvenile correctional center fraud - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Dept. of Education launches juvenile correctional center fraud investigation

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice just got slapped with fraud allegations. A local whistle blower claims faulty bookkeeping could cost taxpayers up to $200,000 and shortchange special needs youth.

The Virginia Department of Education is now launching a formal investigation. This comes on the same week we first reported on the D.J.J.'s plans to close the facility that serves special needs youth, citing budget cuts.

Is this all a coincidence? Only time will tell, but we got our hands on the emails that launched the investigation.

"They're telling me that my taxes are going toward education," said Department of Juvenile Justice whistle blower Kandise Lucas. "I expect them to go towards education."

Lucas wrote a scathing email claiming the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice is violating civil rights of incarcerated special needs children, mismanaging state and federal funds, and falsifying student records.

"Taxpayers are being deceived," said Lucas. "You can't say you are providing services...charge the federal government and the state government for it and not provide the services. That is fraud."

The Virginia Department of Education is launching an investigation partly because Lucas claims the exhaustive list of allegations comes straight from a group of on the job D.J.J. teachers called "educators behind bars."

"And these are educators who may not be able to come forward because they are in fear of severe retaliation," said Lucas.

Department of Education representatives did not want to go on camera, but they did send us an email outlining plans to do sight visits at all 8 facilities. The note is addressed to Lucas and says the site visits will include an investigation of all the allegations made in her email.

"The services that are documented are not the services that are being provided," said Lucas.

That would be a problem because those documented services that allegedly weren't provided just cost taxpayers $200,000.

We received the following statement from the D.J.J.:

"The Department of Education has not officially notified us of the investigation you mentioned," said Greg Davy with the D.J.J. "Until the Department of Juvenile Justice can learn more about what the concerns are, we will reserve any comment."

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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