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School Board Chief Jailed

Inglewood Unified President Cresia Green-Davis could get 15 years if convicted of welfare fraud, perjury and other felonies.

May 01, 2003|Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writer

The president of the Inglewood school board was arrested Wednesday on charges that she fraudulently received almost $38,000 in welfare aid and that she lied about her academic background when applying for a teaching position.

Cresia Green-Davis, 50, is scheduled to be arraigned today on one count of welfare fraud, seven counts of perjury for making false statements for welfare aid and two counts of grand theft by false pretense, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

The district attorney's investigation of Green-Davis had been public knowledge and she had said that political opponents and an ex-husband had sparked the inquiry. "They'll find me clean," she had said.

Green-Davis was in custody and unavailable for comment Wednesday. If convicted, she could face almost 15 years in state prison.

The fraud, perjury and grand theft charges, all felonies, represent the latest setback for a woman who had held a variety of jobs, including office clerk and Caltrans community relations coordinator, before making what she called an unlikely ascendance to the Inglewood School Board two years ago.

Green-Davis told The Times in February that she had earned a degree in social studies from Eastern Michigan University in 1976, although she was arrested on suspicion of stealing from a bookstore while attending the university.

But the district attorney's office alleged that she never received that degree, lied about it on subsequent applications for teaching positions and collected a teacher's salary under false pretenses. A bachelor's degree is required for California teachers by state law. Green-Davis taught in Mississippi, Compton and Centinela Valley schools.

Green-Davis also claimed a graduate degree from the University of Michigan in campaign materials for her successful school board race in 2001. She later said she did not remember who included the degree on her materials or on her official biography on the district's Web site. That resume was taken off the Web site earlier this year.

Green-Davis also told The Times that she was convicted in 1995 of misdemeanor theft in Los Angeles County Municipal Court for shoplifting from a department store. At the time, she said, she was going through a divorce and had gone on welfare to support her twin sons.

The district attorney's office alleged that between Nov. 1, 1995, and April 30, 2001, Green-Davis received almost $38,000 in aid -- food stamps, cash and Medi-Cal --while failing to report she was employed as a teacher.

"She did not report her rent, which would have raised problems, nor did she report that she had remarried," Gibbons alleged.

Asked to comment on Green-Davis' arrest and the allegations against her, the Inglewood School District instead issued a "statement of awareness."

The 17,000-student district, said the statement "regretfully acknowledges awareness that ... its Board of Education president ... was arrested on charges unrelated to district business. Although the announcement is untimely, the remaining board members do qualify as a quorum and will be conducting the business of the district as scheduled. At this time the district has no further comment pending the court's due process proceedings."

Jeff Goode, vice president of the Inglewood Teachers Assn., a union representing about 800 members, called Wednesday a "pretty sad day for the Inglewood school district."

"We believe in due process, and recognize that these are, at this point, only charges," said Goode. "But it would probably be best for the district if she takes a leave of absence, so the essential work we do is not disrupted."

The Inglewood Leadership Council, a citizens group, had already started gathering signatures for Green-Davis' recall before the arrest, in part, its members say, because she has failed to improve schools. That effort, said President Victor Miller, remains on track.

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