Nearly a dozen Richmond Public Schools workers have been placed on leave amid allegations they are stealing from their own employer.
The crime being investigated is copper theft. This time though, the materials were taken from the old Broad Rock Elementary School building, which is set for demolition.
It's been called a breach - and not just of protocol.
"If these allegations are true, then that has breached the trust," maintained new School Board Chair Jeff Bourne.
Sources confirm those allegations include maintenance workers stealing from the old building, which sits right across from the state-of-the-art new Broad Rock Elementary.
Officials say Richmond Public Schools learned of the accusations almost two weeks ago and asked the district's internal auditor to investigate. Based on the initial findings Thursday, 11 workers were placed on administrative leave. Now, even the Richmond Police Department confirms it is looking into the theft.
We're told the copper was stolen from inside the building and could be worth thousands of dollars.
While no students and teachers are there, it is still RPS property. Chair Bourne says the board takes that very seriously.
"This is not what the public expects from its employees," he explained. "We should be rightly held to the highest ethical standards, and the public has to have a sense of trust that we're going to do what we've been paid to do and what's right."
RPS believes this does not meet the standards and expectations of the district's workforce.
In a statement sent late Tuesday, spokesperson Felicia Cosby wrote, "We do not condone these alleged actions nor any other duplicitous actions that compromise our position as responsible stewards of taxpayers' dollars. This type of alleged behavior will not be tolerated..."
Bourne says it doesn't help that this news comes as the district is facing that several million dollar shortfall.
So far, no charges have been filed.
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