Oxford attorney explains rejection of Nessel offer to investigate school shooting

Lowe’s, Degeneres stick to their $500K pledge to school

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Spain Elementary-Middle School in Detroit will still receive a $500,000 donation from Ellen DeGeneres even though its principal was charged in federal court this week in a corruption case.

The project will continue as planned, said an official for Lowe’s, the sponsor of the gift that the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” secured for technology updates, campus renovations and staff funding.

The school’s principal, Ronald Alexander, 60, was among 14 current and former district employees charged Tuesday in a nearly $1 million bribery and kickback scheme.

“Like others in the Detroit community, we are disappointed and concerned by reports that some school officials may have misused funds,” Lowe’s spokeswoman Jenny Popis said in a statement. “There continues to be great need at Spain Elementary School, and it has always been our intention to help improve the learning environment for these students.”

Earlier this year, Ellen DeGeneres heard about the health and safety concerns at the school and asked the country to help. She contacted Lowe’s, which agreed to help.

In February, Alexander accepted the $500,000 donation.

Several weeks later, Alexander was accused of participating in a scheme in which prosecutors say that current and former principals took bribes and $908,518 in kickbacks from school vendor Norman Shy, 74, who owned Allstate Sales.

Detroit Public School officials expressed their gratitude Friday for the “steadfast support” of Lowe’s, the Lowe’s Foundation and the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“Their donation was intended to improve the educational environment for Spain’s students and staff, and that is exactly what will happen with the replacement of the roof over the gymnasium and a complete renovation of the gym itself,” Michelle Zdrodowski, DPS executive director of communications, said in a statement. “We want to assure everyone that every dollar donated has been placed in a special fund at the Detroit Public Schools Foundation that is restricted for use only on the Spain renovations.”

Justin Bieber, who will be performing at The Palace of Auburn Hills on April 25, announced in February he’ll donate $1 per ticket from that show to Spain. Zdrodowski said Friday that she has not heard any change regarding that commitment.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

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