Questions Raised About Tilden Academy Payroll

CHICAGO (CBS) — Concerned members of the community at Tilden Career Community Academy on the South Side have asked federal investigators to look into payroll irregularities that they claim have been going on for years.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the question is whether those irregularities are the result of ghost payrolling or improper record keeping.

Some of the abnormalities in Tilden payroll records include children classified as security guards and employees with no photos in their file.

Concerned members of Tilden’s community told CBS 2 that they want to know if money is going where it’s supposed to go, a question they claim they’ve been asking school officials for years.

They’ve taken their concerns to CBS 2 and federal investigators.

Tilden Career Community Academy Staff Sheet

A staff sheet at Tilden Career Community Academy shows a picture of a little girl above the name "Julio Matias" and the job title "Security." (Credit: CBS)

One Tilden Career Academy staff sheet from 2007 that a former employee shared with CBS 2 News clearly shows the picture of a little girl, but the name listed under her photo is “Julio Matias” and the listed job title is “Security.”

“You have people that exist on the payroll, that exist on the staff sheets, that has never, ever worked at Tilden Career Community Academy,” said the former employee, who asked to remain anonymous.

The CBS 2 source worked at Tilden for two decades until she was laid off after voicing her concerns. She denied that she came forward only to get back at Tilden officials for firing her.

The source claimed payroll irregularities have been going on for years.

Simply looking at past staff sheets raised red flags.

In addition to the little girl listed as a security worker, a staff sheet lists another employee, Bertha Figueroa, as an English teacher. But a time sheet with Figueroa’s name on it lists her as a cleaning lady for an independent company, We Clean Services, Inc.

There’s also Hilda Peña Cruz, whose listing on a 2007 staff sheet has no photo. Cruz is listed on current CPS records as a $54,000-a-year community relations representative.

“Hilda Peña Cruz has never worked for Tilden,” the source said.

Christine Porter Staff Sheets

Staff sheets from Tilden Career Community Academy in 2007 show Christine Porter's photo and name listed for three different positions at the school. (Credit: CBS)

And there’s a woman named Christine Porter on the same Tilden staff sheet, listed three times with three different position numbers.

“There was never a Christine Porter working at Tilden Career Community Academy in any capacity,” the source said.

Asked why Porter’s name and photo would be listed three times for three different positions, the source said, “I think that’s a question central office should be answering.”

Tilden Local School Council member Ronald Jackson said he is equally concerned.

“If you look at it and you see the staff sheets with kids on there, then you know there’s a problem,” he said.

He said he doesn’t think it was a simple joke to have children’s photos placed on the staff sheets instead of photos for legitimate workers.

“No one else has access to that but staff at the school,” Jackson said.

Both said they’ve taken their concerns to the Chicago Public Schools’ inspector general and in a letter to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

The government wrote back to them, confirming they got the letter

Longtime Tilden principal Phyllis Hammond left the school last summer. She said an internal audit showed she left “squeaky clean.”

Current principal Marcey Sorensen said she’s checked her records and “everything appears to be in order here.”

That still doesn’t explain all of the irregularities the anonymous source showed CBS 2.

CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said, “I don’t have any information. I think it’s something the inspector general’s office would be involved in.”

It’s still unknown who is responsible for the irregularities on those staff sheets. There are various people who might be able to alter the payroll and benefit from it.

The CPS inspector general’s office said that investigators received those pictures in 2008 and exhaustingly reviewed them. They found no payroll irregularities at all connected with the photos.

Still, not all of them could be explained.

Federal investigators declined to comment.


    Whats new thats why the schools have no money for the kids its happeniing in most of the schools next they want to raise your taxes if their not stealing the money its the equipment and the food

  • Smooth

    Principal Marcey Sorenson and CPS Monique Bond need to be held accountable for this travesty if it turns out to be fraud. At least all this garbage is being discovered and hopefully the courts will seek justice. No deals on this please just do what is fair and just .

    • punk

      HA! You wouldn’t know what was fair & just if it bit you on the behind. Seriously, you are a fool. There is nothing to find because some people are decent, honest people, who live decent honest lives.

  • x

    Really? So we should hold the current Principal (who has been here less than a year) accountable for payroll issues that occurred before she was even at the school? Real “smooth” genius. I guess we should hold Obama accountable for the Iraq war then, too.

    • WarSupporter

      The only person resposible for the Iraq war is Saddam Hussain. Multiple UN sanctions broken,firing at US planes,etc etc etc… He had to go. All his own doing. He had plenty of chances to comply and chose to be removed by force.

  • Thomas

    The photo on this CBS2 story belonging to Christine Porter who is the very same Christine Porter who has been a POET employee and Contracts Manager for at least eight years. No way she could have been a legitimate Tilden staffer.

  • L.S.C


  • NWhere is the justice

    The investigation this articles refers to took place in 2008 when sources at Tilden had concerns. This was taken to and investigated by the iinspector general and (even I am surprised at this) Ms. hammond’s administration was found to be clean. Another question went out and that too was found to be clean. Ms. Soreneson cam ein under a clean slate and judging by the way her and her staff spend money on the kids, I theresay she is still clean. As she continues to harp at us with her workaholic self “It’s about the kids!”

    These allegations are serious and are not based on fact. It is another chance to attack a school who student’s struggle and a way to attack public education in general.. The pictures given to the reporter (who I no longer have any respect for) Was actually given clear cut true information forn all parties and the station decided to run on the slanderous material presented. All I have to say is shame on you. You are just as bad as you would like to say Public School teachers are. I am sure this will not last long as a comment since it states your story is a bag of lies.

  • lsc

    u talking about justice were the justice for the student who was beatind by an who phone was stoleing were the justice for sp .ed student who was sent home in rain

  • lsc

    i mean who was beating an the sp.ed who was sent home in the rain so were is the justice for her p.hammone is not clean it will came out

  • sharefactor

    Give me a break. 3 pictures and 3 different position nmbrs. What does that mean? Its just a smear tactic used on a another POET employee. Dont u recognize when they use everything to tarnish any and everybody that has worked under the Stroger administration,even though the employee had no connection to Stroger? Keep an eye on that POET office. All those people that have lost their jobs and accused of whatever they can come up with are not guilty. Those are federal funds and require strict reporting. Leave the little people alone. Its character assassination. The investigations have been done and closed.

  • Joe Hamilton

    Principal Hammond needs to be held accountable! Too bad they abolished the death penalty yesterday. Lol

  • Former LSC

    I was on the Tilden LSC when Hammond was in charge and it was a joke. This Principal was so corrupt she makes the indicted Illinois politicians look like angels. So much info was passed to me and she was found “clean” because they didn’t want to find anything. She had enough clout to keep her in that school for 8, yes 8, years even though it was among the bottom 5 worst schools IN THE STATE! Eventually she was run out of that school because there was too many complaints even her clout couldn’t help her. Don’t blame the current Principal, but please, Feds, dig deep! Therebis plenty to find. The worst part is that her and her cronies didn’t care from day one about these kids. Sad…sad…sad.

  • Former LSC (Tilden teacher)

    Ms Hammond had extensive audits several times in 2008 because of these accusations, and every time the charges were unfounded. She was also audited when she left Tilden and they checked the records in detail…NO problems. Our current principal, Ms Sorensen was also audited twice and NOTHING was found to be out of the ordinary. Photo ID’s are NOT time sheets. When someone is accused of something and they are found innocent over and over again; why do some people go back again and again, and keep accusing them? These senseless accusations are made by people who are misinformed, refuse to listen to reasonable explanations or have a grudge.

    • Former Teacher (Not LSC)

      Hammond was a crook and those who worked closely with her knew it. As was stated above, the same clout that kept her at Tilden despite being one of the worst schools is the same that kept her “audit” clean. Asked the people she had removed like the budget manager, so she was able to do whatever she wanted without anyone checking up on her. BTW, I’m a former Tilden teacher at another school now and I was afraid to say anything while I was(and so were many others) there because she made sure people knew she had clout and would ax you in a second if you went against her.


    while it is a shame how everyone has forgotten what the real purpose is each one must teach one. not to foget about the childrens whose future has been destroy by tilden career community academy. phylis hammond should be held accountable for corruption. How in the world can two govenors pay a price for breaking the law.phylis and the corruption crew are they Bigger Than The Govenors. WOW MAKES YOU REALLY WONDER ! ! !

  • Tilden Teacher

    The article said “The CPS inspector general’s office said that investigators received those pictures in 2008 and exhaustingly reviewed them. They found no payroll irregularities at all connected with the photos”. Now, how clear is that? Don’t try to find things wrong because you had a personal problem with the former principal. The facts speak for themselves . The investigation was done by the Inspector General. They are not “friends” with anybody and if they found something, you can believe that they would do something. Audits are exhausting and extensive and they look for ANY irregularities. Both Ms Sorensen and Ms Hammond are clean of any wrong doing and good people.

  • NEW .LSC


  • NEW .LSC


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