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Former employee charged with stealing $31,000 from military academy

A former New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy business manager has been charged with theft stemming from $31,000 in fraudulent checks written more than a year ago. The school still hasn’t recovered the money.

Darrell K. Sims, 55, turned himself in to police on Oct. 30, said New Orleans Police Department spokesman Garry Flot. Sims, who also spells his name “Darral,” was booked on a single count of theft of at least $1,500 and was released on bond, according to court records.

While employed at the military academy, Sims wrote checks from the school for $28,500 and $2,500, one in October 2011 and the other in April 2012, Flot said.

The checks were invoiced as if they were written to Office Depot and Tech Depot, according to New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy Commandant Col. Bill Davis. But the checks actually were written to POS Inc., a social organization founded by Sims that is also known as “People of Substance.”

Davis said the school hasn’t received the money from its insurance company because the police report didn’t have enough information. The school is working with NOPD to fix that.

The school fired Sims in May 2012 for other reasons, Davis has said. Sims is employed as a data manager at Joseph A. Craig Charter School.

Reached at Craig, Sims said, “I’ll be glad when this is all over.” He referred all questions to his lawyer, Benny George, who wasn’t immediately available for comment.

He has been charged with stealing from a school before. While a Terrebone Parish teacher in the 1996-97 school year, he was accused of stealing $1,642 entrusted to him through his position, according to a Terrebone Parish assistant district attorney. Sims entered pretrial intervention rather than face trial, so he was never convicted of a crime.

Sims also has been arrested repeatedly for writing worthless checks. He declared bankruptcy in 2011.

The military academy’s pre-employment background check for Sims didn’t reveal the prior charges in part because it checked just the previous seven years, Davis has said.

Friends of King Schools attorney Tracie Washington has said that its background check didn’t reveal anything, either.

Prior to joining the military school, Sims worked at the Recovery School District from 2007 to 2010 as a data manager, school accountant and clerk, and, finally, a technology teacher, an RSD spokeswoman has said.

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About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her reporting on charter school transparency and governance. In 2012, she was part of a team that received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for their work following a New Orleans family's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School in Algiers, and she obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. She can be reached at (504) 575-8191.

  • Lee Barrios

    Lots of oversight going on here.

  • nickelndime

    What I want to know is – what is being done about the legalized theft that occurs on a daily basis at these charter schools? Sure, the business manager over at Langston Hughes ($600,000) was caught, but why was an inexperienced and inept John Alford even in a CEO position in the first place? Because John served a 1-year apprenticeship with Sarah Usdin’s (sitting OPSB member) “New Schools for New Orleans” (NSNO) in 2006 and was a state-favorite to run a charter school? Ben Kleban, same story line (NSNO), wrote the charter and founded NOCP, but nobody has been caught yet ($10,000 finder’s fee to fill a principal position). This is atrocious behavior, but obviously legal. New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy (Superintendent Pastorek’s former law firm, Adams and Reese LLP, forms the nonprofit to open and operate NOMMA), a Type 2 charter school approved by BESE. A NOMMA business manager writes checks out to his own nonprofit. Lusher accountant writes checks in the amount of $25,000. Is anyone looking at the excessive amounts of public money that is being paid to “management” (CEO, COO, CFO, CAO administrators) of these public charter schools, which leads me to ask the next question, if this is what “management” is being paid, what kinds of things are these nonprofit boards getting away with?!!!