Dallas school district committed "systemic" Social Security fraud

Over a period of several years, a Dallas school district fraudulently issued Social Security numbers in order to employ bilingual teachers.  Despite previous warnings, the DISD continued this practice until a tipster alerted investigators to the practice (via Michelle):

Years after being advised by a state agency to stop, the Dallas Independent School District continued to provide foreign citizens with fake Social Security numbers to get them on the payroll quickly.

Some of the numbers were real Social Security numbers already assigned to people elsewhere. And in some cases, the state’s educator certification office unknowingly used the bogus numbers to run criminal background checks on the new hires, most of whom were brought in to teach bilingual classes.

The practice was described in an internal report issued in September by the district’s investigative office, which looked into the matter after receiving a tip. The report said the Texas Education Agency learned of the fake numbers in 2004 and told DISD then that the practice “was illegal.”

It’s unclear how long DISD had been issuing the phony numbers, and district officials didn’t know Thursday how many had been given out. But the investigative report and interviews with DISD employees indicate the practice went on for several years before it was discontinued this past summer.

First, I love the headline on this article: “Dallas ISD faulted for using fake Social Security numbers”.  Er, faulted?  Social Security fraud is a felony, not a policy disagreement.   For that matter, why didn’t the Texas Education Agency report the practice to law enforcement?  Their silence arguably makes them accessories to the crime.

The fraud occurred in DISD’s “alternative certification system”, a process by which schools can bypass Texas certification requirements for specific needs.  One of those needs is apparently bilingual education.  Instead of hiring qualified teachers with American citizenship or legitimate residency, DISD recruited people from Mexico and encouraged them to work illegally in Dallas.  Had they wanted them to work legally, they wouldn’t have created a process for falsifying Social Security numbers.

Is teaching a job Americans won’t do?  Are there no bilingual educators in the US?  Or was DISD just unwilling to pay a competitive rate for those instructors and conspired to get cheaper labor through fraud?

Faulted, indeed.  The US Attorney’s office should be preparing indictments for the DISD managers who ran this program and the instructors who participated in it.

Addendum: This isn’t the first fraud involving DISD, either.  And this should have been apparent two years ago, when the local CBS affiliate discovered that some of DISD’s “bilingual” educators didn’t speak English.