Former city schools chief information officer to face federal indictment

Jerome Oberlton, the former chief information officer for the Baltimore City school system whose office renovation and credit card expenditures came under fire in the months before he left his post to work in the Dallas school district, is expected to face a federal indictment, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The Morning News reported this week that Oberlton resigned as chief of staff for the Dallas Independent School District, telling the district's Superintendent Mike Miles that he expected to face a federal indictment for activity he conducted when he worked for the Atlanta Public Schools.

The Morning News reported that the indictment is not expected to be related to Atlanta's widespread cheating scandal that led to the indictment of dozens of educators in the district, including its former superintendent.

Oberlton came to Baltimore from the private sector in March 2011, and his introduction to the district included high praise for his career in information technology, as a consultant in large, urban school systems and heading up the IT department in the Atlanta school system.  

Of his work in Atlanta, the city school system said: "As chief information technology officer for Atlanta Public Schools, Mr. Oberlton adapted the district's 109 schools to make the most of 21st century technology while transforming the IT department into a customer-centric, process-oriented solution center focused on improving overall district productivity and cutting district costs."

He left Baltimore in January to head to Dallas.

In a statement to the Dallas Morning News, Miles (Dallas Superintendent) said:

"I was profoundly shocked and disappointed when I was told of the allegations. When I learned of the seriousness of this issue yesterday, I immediately requested Mr. Oberlton's resignation. I was shocked because the district conducted a thorough background and credit check including interviews with his most recent employer. My disappointment is accompanied by anger because Jerome did not inform us about his involvement in this investigation until yesterday."

In his nearly two year stint in Baltimore, Oberlton came under fire after two Baltimore Sun investigations found questionable spending in his office.

The first was $250,000 used to outfit Oberlton's executive suite, at the same time the district was lobbying lawmakers for billions of dollars to fix the system's crumbling school buildings. City schools officials called the renovation, "a bad judgment call."

Months later, amid a Sun investigation into the district's credit card spending, the school district forced Oberlton to cut a $5,000 personal check to pay back credit card expenditures incurred by his office, that included trips to retail stores such as Bath & Body Works, Ross and Walmart to buy snacks and refreshments, and gifts and decorations for holiday banquets, birthdays and baby shower celebrations. Other charges that came under fire included a $7,300 retreat, a $500 dinner at the Inner Harbor's Fogo de Chao, and a $500 quarterly meeting for staff at Paradise Indian Cuisine.

Shortly after he began his stint in Dallas, Oberlton addressed the Baltimore controversies in the Dallas Morning News. Of the renovations, Oberlton said: "From a timing perspective, it was an error in judgment. A huge lesson learned for me.”

But, Oberlton also addressed other issues that came to light in Dallas regarding two private businesses registered in his name. You can read the full story here.

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