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DPS terminates ombudswoman after investigation

The Detroit News

Detroit Public Schools has terminated its first ombudswoman following an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Carol Banks, a former member of the Detroit Board of Education, was terminated Dec. 4 “as a result of the district’s investigation,” said Michelle Zdrodowski, a spokeswoman for Detroit Public Schools, in an email to The Detroit News.

Banks had been on unpaid administrative leave since September during the investigation. She was appointed to the $60,000-a-year post last year.

Separately, Banks is a paid employee at City Hall, working as chief of staff to District 3 City Councilman Scott Benson.

The district has said the investigation was spurred by a Fox 2 News report that questioned how many hours Banks was truly putting in between her part-time work in Benson’s office and full-time role with the school district.

The news report, which aired in September, scrutinized Banks’ time cards from the city and district, claiming she was billing for hours not worked. The segment also featured a WJBK-TV (Channel 2) reporter tracking and filming Banks’ whereabouts for several days in June.

Reached Tuesday, Banks confirmed she now works full time for Benson. She is paid $33 per hour on a contract that runs through June 30.

Banks denied the allegations involving her work hours during a televised confrontation with a Fox 2 reporter. On Tuesday, she referred comment about the DPS termination to her attorney, Todd Perkins.

Perkins said Banks regards herself as a steward to the community and in her employment with the city “continues to serve valiantly and honorably.”

He added that DPS has not given her specifics about why the district let her go.

“She feels unclear about what the specific reasons were,” Perkins said. “There was no elaboration for that.”

Zdrodowski said Tuesday the district would not be releasing any details of the investigation because it is a personnel matter.

At City Hall, Benson said he’s found no evidence of wrongdoing on Banks’ part and stands behind her. He also reiterated that she had been transparent with her DPS superiors regarding her commitment to his office.

“Carol Banks is a huge asset to this community and to my office,” he said. “I’m happy to have her.”

Zdrodowski said that the district has not yet sought to fill the vacated position, which was created to enhance service for parents, students, staff and alumni.

“The district is reviewing this position to determine its overall effectiveness and value to parent and customer service,” she said.