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CPS waits two weeks to apologize for egregious error

Thousands of Chicago public school employees* received incredible news from CPS during the winter break: We are owed money. CPS “records indicate that the following check has not been cashed,” stated a letter dated Dec. 17, 2019.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson has not yet apologized for the error. No information was posted on the CPS website to clarify the invalid letters. A CPS employee finally emailed a ‘truly sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused’ notice after the CPS-wide Christmas-time gift of confusion, false promise and time waste. Substance photo of Jackson taken in 2015 by David Vance.The letter sent to this reporter itemized checks totalling more than $1,300. But instead of money, CPS gave a holiday gift of confusion, worry and wasted time. The letters were "invalid," CPS admited two weeks later.

After receiving their letters, recipients attempted to decipher their personalized notices, worrying that their responses would be too late, for the CPS letter stated “This notices requires an IMMEDIATE RESPONSE.”

They tried to figure out what to have notarized, as the statement suggested there was a form enclosed, which wasn’t. The CPS letter stated: “Sign the letter below and return it with the notarized affidavit.” There was no form for notarizing. Just the letter.

One of thousands of invalid letters that caused confusion and wasted time of CPS employees.CPS employees spent many precious winter break minutes looking back for possibly uncashed or undeposited paychecks, scouring bank statements, making phone calls to CPS and their bank costumer service representatives, all to find out that they had received these four and three-year-old checks.

CPS took two weeks after causing widespread confusion and wasted effort to admit an error. The first official statement was an email sent to employees by Lenny Moore, Controller of the Department of Finance, CPS, on Dec. 30, 2019, at 3 p.m, with the subject line “Escheat Notice.”

[A search of “escheat” in the Merriam Webster online dictionary resulted in 1: escheated property; 2a: the reversion of lands in English feudal law to the lord of the fee when there are no heirs capable of inheriting under the original grant; b: the reversion of property to the crown in England or to the state in the U.S. when there are no legal heirs.]

The CPS email follows:

Good Afternoon,

You are receiving this email* because during the week of Dec. 16, 2019, you were sent a letter from the Chicago Public Schools Finance Department noting that you previously received a check from the district that has not been cashed. Regretfully, that letter was sent in error, and it is not valid. Each year, we notify vendors and staff members who have uncashed checks that are three or more years old to provide them an opportunity to cash the check before the funds are turned over to the state in accordance with state law. An error occurred this year during the processing of these letters, which requires us to retract all of the notices that were sent and issue revised notices to anyone who has an actual outstanding check. If you have an actual outstanding check from the district, you will receive a subsequent notice from our office in the near future.

We are truly sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. If you have any questions or concerns about this letter, please feel free to call us at 773-553-2720 or email at cpsfinance@cps.edu.

*Please note that you will also receive a letter in the mail stating the same information as above.

Lenny Moore, CPA, MBA, CGFM

Substance is still waiting to learn the number of people who were inconvenienced. We left a message at the Office of Communication asking for the number of letter recipients. In addition, we emailed Moore and called the number on his email, receiving only a busy signal or unanswered ringing.



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