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D.C. Schools Leader Asked Contractor for Six-Figure Donation for District Gala

District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson asked a food-service contractor for a six-figure contribution to a black-tie district gala, according to emails obtained by the Associated Press.

Henderson's request for $100,000 from Chartwells came just weeks after the company was accused, in a whistleblower lawsuit, of bilking the city out of $19 million and serving spoiled food to students.

Chartwells is still serving food in the D.C. schools while the district searches for a new vendor.

Here's an excerpt from the Associated Press story:

"After the lawsuit was filed, Chartwells and its local partner, Thompson Hospitality, gave $25,000 to support the black-tie gala, according to records from the D.C. Public Education Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for schools and organizes the $700,000 event. The emails show the companies made the contribution after Chancellor Kaya Henderson asked Thompson Hospitality's president to give $100,000 to the event.

City ethics rules generally prohibit city employees from soliciting money, including charitable contributions, from companies that do business with the city. The D.C. Council has established exceptions for fundraising by the chancellor, although they don't address D.C. Public Education Fund donations.

"The D.C. Ed Fund does its best to attract donors to the event, and the chancellor plays an important role in that," school system spokeswoman Michelle Lerner said in a statement. "However, there is a firm wall between the management of DCPS contracts and the fundraising of the D.C. Ed Fund."

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