Principal says she took bribes but helped the 'underdog'

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DETROIT (AP) — There are no shouts of innocence from a former Detroit high school principal charged this week with taking bribes. Just the opposite.

"Let me be honest — I benefited," Kenyetta Wilbourn-Snapp told the Detroit Free Press ( ).

"I couldn't have $2,000 in my pocket from a vendor ... and not buy gas for the car," she said, referring to a Maserati.

An indictment unsealed Thursday charged Wilbourn-Snapp with conspiracy and other crimes. She's accused of accepting nearly $60,000 from a company hired to perform tutoring services.

Wilbourn-Snapp, who was principal at two struggling schools, Denby and Mumford, said payoffs were part of the education culture in Detroit. She recalled how her grandmother got a job in food service and an uncle became a football assistant at Denby with money from a vendor.

She said she learned the system from a principal early in her career.

"She would give us gift cards and the best tickets to the (Detroit) Pistons, and we never knew where it came from," Wilbourn-Snapp said. "And anytime we wanted to buy something that the district denied, she said, 'Here, take a Visa.'"

She said she's a "sucker for the underdog" and helped many poor people with utility bills and other needs.

Keith Johnson, former head of the teachers union and a mentor to Wilbourn-Snapp, said the allegations shocked him.

"If what is alleged and what she's admitted is true, it ends up pretty much destroying what had been a great career," Johnson said.

Denby and Mumford schools are part of a special district created by the state to improve academic performance in certain schools.


Information from: Detroit Free Press,

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