- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2014

A D.C. Public Schools employee who works with disabled students was fined $1,500 Thursday for using a handicapped-parking placard that belonged to her dead grandmother in order to park for free at work.

The D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability approved the fine against Deitra Bryant Mallory, who earns a six-figure salary as director of related services for the D.C. Public Schools, officials said at the board’s Thursday meeting.

The fine came after an investigation by the city’s Office of the Inspector General, which noted in a report last year that Ms. Bryant Mallory even used the placard to park illegally when she was called to discuss the case with investigators.

Officials said Thursday that four times last year investigators saw Ms. Bryant Mallory use the handicap parking placard, which was issued in South Carolina, while parking her car on 1st Street in Northeast D.C.

When officials initially confronted her about the use of the placard, Ms. Bryant Mallory said it belonged to her grandmother and she used it to transport her grandmother, according to the inspector general report. She later admitted that her grandmother had died in 2008, but that she continued to use the parking placard and even doctored it to make it look as if it was still valid.

The inspector general report, which does not name Ms. Bryant Mallory but matches the details of the case identified by the ethics board, said she admitted using the parking pass in order to park for free when she traveled to work every Monday and Wednesday throughout 2013.

According to city payroll records, Ms. Bryant Mallory as of December makes about $112,000 a year. She has been employed by the city since 1992 and remains on the job, a schools spokeswoman said.

“Deitra Bryant Mallory cooperated fully with the IG investigation and per the IG report, we’ve taken the appropriate administrative actions,” spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said in an email statement. “She remains an employee with DCPS. As a policy, DCPS does not comment on the specifics of personnel matters.”

Ethics board members noted Thursday that Ms. Bryant Mallory had likely broken laws in both the District and South Carolina, but that it would be up to law enforcement to decide whether to go forward with any criminal prosecution. Investigators confiscated the parking placard from her car after meeting with her to discuss the case.

Of the $1,500 fine imposed, which officials said Ms. Bryan Mallory had agreed to pay in full on Friday, board member Laura Richards said, “That seems quite adequate.”

The investigation of Ms. Bryant Mallory’s case is part of a wider effort by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General to root out government employees improperly using disability placards to obtain free parking.

The Office of the Inspector General conducted 14 investigations in 2013 that revealed such activity by D.C. government employees. The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability was referred five cases, four of which were upheld, according to Government Ethics Director Darrin Sobin.