Attorney General Derek Schmidt sued Scholastic School Supply on Thursday for allegedly billing 317 Kansas schools for books that were never purchased or received.
Under the Kansas False Claims Act, Schmidt is seeking $634,000 in civil penalties from Robert Armstrong, who operates the Franklinville, New Jersey, company. Scholastic School Supply is not affiliated with Scholastic, Inc., a well-known children's book publisher that holds book fairs in schools throughout the U.S.
“Falsely billing Kansas public school districts is an attempt to defraud Kansas taxpayers and a serious violation of the law,” Schmidt said. “We take seriously our responsibility to protect taxpayers from this sort of misconduct by vigorously enforcing the Kansas False Claims Act.”
The attorney general’s office received complaints from schools throughout Kansas about invoices from Scholastic School Supply received between September and December 2014. The schools allegedly never ordered textbooks from the company. The attorney general’s office worked with the Kansas Department of Education to alert other schools before they paid the invoices.
The Kansas False Claims Act was enacted in 2009 and allows the attorney general to sue anyone who submits false or fraudulent payment claims to a state or local government agency.