Chartwells, school food contractor, pays over $19 million to settle whistleblower’s case in D.C.

by bvernia | June 6th, 2015

On June 5, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia announced that Chartwells, a division of Compass Group USA, Inc., and school food contractor, had agreed to settle civil allegations, initially brought by a whistleblower under the District of Columbia’s False Claims Act, that the company had defrauded the District’s Public Schools in its contracts to provide meals to children. According to the Attorney General’s press release:

Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced today that the District has reached a $19.4 million settlement resolving the District’s claims concerning multi-year contracts the DC Public Schools (DCPS) entered into with Chartwells, a division of Compass Group USA, Inc., and Thompson Hospitality Services LLC.

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The District’s complaint in intervention, filed under seal on April 20, 2015, focused on contracts entered into by DCPS and Chartwells/Thompson Hospitality in 2008 and 2012. In 2008, DCPS decided to privatize its student food and nutrition services in order to spend less than it was then spending on its in-house food service operation. In addition, DCPS wanted to improve the quality and nutritional value of the meals it served to students.

In addition to payments and credits to the District totaling $14.4 million, and in recognition of Chartwells’ commitment to education to the District of Columbia, Chartwells further agreed to make the following payments:

  • $4,000,000 to the DC Public Education Fund to fund innovative programs at DCPS;

  • $500,000 to Everybody Wins! DC, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting literacy and leadership in District public elementary schools;

  • $250,000 to Mentors, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides mentoring support to public high school students in the District;

  • $150,000 to the Abramson Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides mentors, personal and professional support and college scholarships to District public school students; and

  • $100,000 to College Bound, Inc., a non-profit organization that offers District public school students academic enrichment and resources to prepare for and succeed in college.

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The whistleblower is Jeffrey Mills, executive director of the school system’s Office of Food and Nutritional Services. The schools fired Mills in 2013, leading to a whistleblower retaliation suit and a $450,000 settlement. His share of the Chartwells settlement has not yet been determined.

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