KIPP DC Official Embezzled $2.2 Million in School Funds, Federal Lawsuit Charges

Complaint says Kevin Ward, who died by suicide in January, spent student technology funds on property, cars, sports memorabilia

Former Hyattsville Mayor and KIPP DC senior technology director Kevin Ward (City of Hyattsville, Maryland)

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A federal complaint charges that a Maryland mayor who died by suicide earlier this year embezzled more than $2 million from KIPP DC charter schools, where he had been senior director of technology.

In the civil forfeiture complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, prosecutors said Kevin Ward spent $2.2 million in school funds on property in West Virginia, a Jeep Gladiator, a Tesla Model S Plaid, a Tesla Model Y, an Alfa Romeo Giulia, a Subaru Impreza, a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, a Jeep Wrangler, a Ducati Diavel motorcycle, a Ford Super Duty F-450 pickup truck, a Taxa Cricket camper and sports memorabilia including autographs from Jerry Rice and Michael Jordan.

The funds were supposed to pay for laptops and other technology for students at KIPP DC, which serves some 7,000 kids at eight schools in the District. KIPP officials said they found financial irregularities during a routine internal review in December and contacted federal authorities.

In a statement, the network said a further investigation found “this was an isolated incident conducted by a single individual who took advantage of extraordinary circumstances during the pandemic and the individual’s role as head of technology.”

KIPP officials “said they have already recovered $1 million from [the network’s] insurance provider and are ‘optimistic’ the Justice Department’s recovery process will return more than $800,000 of the missing funds,” The Washington Post reported. The network also said it had instituted additional financial controls to prevent future fraud.

Ward worked at the charter school network from 2017 until he reportedly took a leave of absence in July 2021, several months after being elected mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland. A beloved figure and the city’s first openly gay mayor, Ward died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in January.

Read the full complaint here:

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