Conflict Charges Leveled Against Chicago Board President
The Cook County, Ill., state's attorney's office is looking into conflict-of-interest charges involving D. Sharon Grant, the president of the Chicago board of education.
Ms. Grant, who is one of the owners of a health-care company, came under fire in late November after the board of education approved a $30 million, no-bid health contract with Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Illinois. Ms. Grant's company, Concerned Health Care of America Inc., is a subcontractor for Blue Cross in a contract with the Chicago Transit Authority.
Although Ms. Grant abstained from voting on the Blue Cross contract, she acknowledged that she had helped to negotiate it.
Another company that had sought the school board's business said it could have saved the schools more money than the Blue Cross contract, which officials said would save the district $13 million a year.
Ms. Grant, who could not be reached for comment last week, has said that she got involved in the contract talks to get the best possible deal for the schools and that she has no conflict of interest. She told the Chicago Sun-Times that she welcomed the investigation.
The Cook County clerk has also asked the state's attorney's office to examine whether Ms. Grant misrepresented facts about her business dealings on statements of economic interest filed with the clerk's office.
The board president did not list her company on the forms, saying that it does not do business with the school board. But Ms. Grant's company has a contract with another health-care group, Rush Access, that does business with the board of education.
Property Also Examined
Investigators are also looking into questions about property on Chicago's West Side, owned by the board of education, that was leased to a not-for-profit group run by Ms. Grant's mother, a well-known community activist.
The community group had failed to pay back rent on the property, and, in 1988, when Ms. Grant was serving on the school board, the lease was cut off. Later that year, it was renewed.
Ms. Grant produced board minutes showing that she did not vote on the lease issue.
The controversy over Ms. Grant's business dealings, which has received prominent media play in Chicago, has prompted two members of the board of education to call for her resignation.