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March 22, 2017-After reporting that the State of Indiana ruled a contract for social media services an invalid use of Title I funds, the Gazette received a message to look at the use of Title I funds at Superintendent Pruitt’s former district, Proviso Township High Schools in Park Forest, Illinois. Like the Gary Community School Corporation, Proviso Township Schools have a history of trouble with finances. The District is being overseen by a financial oversight panel appointed by the State of Illinois. According to her LinkedIn profile, Dr. Cheryl Pruitt was the assistant superintendent of schools at “Proviso Township High Schools District 209” from February 2009 until July 2012.
In 2010, a company called Angel’s Will began performing college tours for Proviso Township School District. According to Illinois Secretary of State records, the corporation was formed in March, 2011 and involuntarily dissolved on September 14, 2012. Willie David Fuller still lists Angel’s Will as his employer on LinkedIn but no longer mentions providing college tours. The recommendation for approval of a contract, above, shows that Angel’s Will provided services to the District in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2012 Angel’s Will was paid over $190,000 to provide three, 5 day college tours. Of that, $123,940, was paid by Title I federal funds. Numbers were not readily available for the 2010 and 2011 contracts.
Proviso Township High Schools District 209 did publish notices of the tours but did not publish any photos or other information after the tours were completed. Two other companies bid on the Proviso Township proposal and they both have websites with staff and photos of students who have gone on trips. Those companies are Brightspark Travel and College Campus Tours.
In 2010, Dr. Pruitt plugged the college tour program, describing it as a reward for students who took the ACT:
“At PTHS 209, we partnered with Cambridge Educational Services in order to offer our students free ACT test preparation,” said PTHS 209 Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Cheryl Pruitt. “We want to prepare them for college, prepare them for testing, and prepare them for their everyday course work. Over 117 students signed up and took advantage of this program. Now we want to reward them and go the extra mile to help get them ready for their college choice by taking them on a tour of some of the best colleges and universities in the country. In just one week students will have an opportunity to experience great cities and several colleges and universities.”
What Dr. Pruitt didn’t mention is that her daughter began working at Angel’s Will in January, 2010 and worked there until after the company was involuntarily dissolved. According to her profile on Social Media site LinkedIn, Christian Trigg served as a program coordinator for the ghost company for 3 years. It is unclear what role, if any, Dr. Pruitt had in steering the contract to Angel’s Will but she was intimately involved in the ACT program. The college tours were specifically related to the ACT program in the few published notices we could find.
We caution readers that all of this may be perfectly legal and ethical. It is not clear from the record at this point whether the relationship with Dr. Pruitt’s daughter and Angel’s Will was disclosed or even if it was required to be disclosed. However, it certainly is relevant in light of allegations of misuse of Title I federal funds at Gary Community School Corporation.
We have requested public records relating to the Proviso Townhsip-Angel’s Will contracts. We will provide them when they are obtained.
Higher Education Administration
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Company NamePurdue University Northwest
Dates EmployedJan 2016 – Present
Employment Duration1 yr 3 mos
TRiO Programs Marketing and Data Specialist
Company NameIvy Tech Community College of Indiana
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Urban Education Teacher Program (UTEP) Marketing Specialist
Company NameIndiana University Northwest
Dates EmployedAug 2014 – Aug 2015
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Company NameAngel’s Will, LLC
Dates EmployedJan 2010 – Jan 2013
Employment Duration3 yrs 1 mo