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The Kings County District Attorneys office is evaluating evidence that a Coney Island teacher had charged the city for giving instruction to a dead child. Officials from the Department of Educations Special Commissioner of Investigation announced the bombshell discovery last week just before all of the allegations against 37-year-old Cheryl Edwards were handed over to Brooklyn prosecutors. According to the allegations, the Commissioner of Investigation discovered that Edwards, a Queens resident who works at P.S. 288, the Shirley Tanyhill School at the corner of West 25th Street and Mermaid Avenue, had fraudulently billed the city for thousands of dollars for rendering home instruction for two students. But Edwards bill, as well as the death certificate filed by the grieving family of one of her students, conflict. Investigators learned that Edwards allegedly filed invoices claiming that she home-schooled the child, a critically ill boy from Vietnam, between January 23 and June 12, 2006. School officials later learned, however, that the child had passed away on January 29. Investigators were also told that the childs mother, who is also terminally ill, informed Edwards in January 2006 that she was taking her child back to Vietnam to die. In a letter written to Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, Special Investigation Commissioner Richard Condon admitted that Edwards may not have known that the child had passed away. She might not have known that he was dead, but she knew what the mother told her, which was that she didn't need home tutoring anymore because her boy was dying, Condon said in his letter. What she knew is she didn't have to show up there anymore. Edwards reportedly refused to be questioned by the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation. She denied all of the allegations when contacted by reporters. Ironically, it was not the family of the dead boy that alerted city investigators. Rather, it was the parents of another child that Edwards allegedly home-schooled. The mother of the child, who is also too sick to go to school, told investigators that she had complained that Edwards had not appeared at her home to teach her son since the beginning of the 2006 school year. When questioned, the child admitted that he never even met Edwards, although the Coney Island teacher had been billing the city for tutoring the child. In light of this news, Special Commissioner Condon has recommended to Chancellor Klein that Cheryl Edwards be fired and made ineligible for future employment in the Citys schools. Edwards termination was pending as this paper went to press. It was unclear if the Kings County District Attorneys office was going to bring the allegations to a grand jury.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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