We will be performing maintenance to our Data Center this Saturday morning, December 13th. During this maintenance window multiple services will be unavailable, including school web sites and Internet access from our CEO and SSF facilities. Services should be restored by mid-day Saturday.
Many of you saw a report aired by Fox 17 last night. It alleged that we have a repeated pattern of theft in our district and sited the prosecution of a principal, bookkeeper and a coach within the past six years.
This is an oddly timed news story as it ties together a suspended employee who is being prosecuted and not due to appear in court until May 28 with two individuals from different schools who were prosecuted several years ago. Both employees involved in the previous incidents were prosecuted, and full restitution was paid to the school district. Both of the previous incidents were also widely covered by the local media at the time of each occurrence.
Here are the facts about the cases:
- The District Attorney is in the process of prosecuting former HHS Wrestling Coach William Lackey for theft from Hendersonville High School's wrestling funds. This investigation was initiated by our Internal Auditor Lisa Sweeney, who discovered that Mr. Lackey was using school funds for personal use. As is our protocol, Mrs. Sweeney reported her findings to the Hendersonville Police Department for criminal prosecution. Mr. Lackey has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation against him. Mr. Lackey will be arraigned on his charges on May 28.
- Former Millersville Principal Shelly Petty was convicted in 2011 of stealing $124.96 from Millersville Elementary. Again, this investigation was initiated by our Internal Auditor Lisa Sweeney after she discovered discrepancies in Millersville's books. As is our protocol, Mrs. Sweeney reported her findings to the Sumner County Sheriff's Department for criminal prosecution. Mrs. Petty was prosecuted, convicted and placed on six months probation and required to pay $682.37 in court costs and restitution to the school district. Mrs. Petty resigned from the school system in March 2011.
- Penny Knight is the former bookkeeper of Beech Elementary who was convicted in September 2012 of stealing $19,135 from the school. Mrs. Knight was sentenced to six years probation and required to pay $19,135 in restitution to the school district. Again, this investigation was initiated by our Internal Auditor Lisa Sweeney after she discovered discrepancies in Beech Elementary's books. As is our protocol, Mrs. Sweeney reported her findings to the Sumner County Sheriff's Department for criminal prosecution. Mrs. Knight was terminated in September 2010.
Here are the facts about the Fox 17 story:
- The report blatantly misrepresented the statements of our County Executive Anthony Holt. Attached is a letter from Mr. Holt setting the record straight. Please click here for Mr. Holt’s letter.
- The report also featured statements from a "former teacher" named Annie Morton-Krise. The truth is Ms. Morton-Krise has NEVER been employed by Sumner County Schools.
The three above cases clearly show that our internal controls are working. In each case, our Internal Auditor identified the fraud and pursued prosecution. Without the school system’s audit process, police wouldn’t have been notified nor would have any of these individuals been held accountable for their inappropriate actions. In each case we worked with police and the District Attorney to hold the employees accountable, and the school district received full restitution.
As Director of Schools, I take it very personally when our district is accused of having no accountability and when ALL of our teachers and staff are accused of theft and corruption due to the inappropriate decisions and actions of only a FEW. These three individual cases, which occurred over a six-year period, are in no way representative of how our district operates and the thousands of employees on our staff who show up for work everyday and do the right thing. Nowhere in the report does it mention the countless teachers in our district who spend their own money on their classrooms, which is certainly more representative of the norm in our underfunded school district.
Unfortunately, this story and its timing are typical of the political environment in Sumner County that’s existed for decades, and it’s time for a change.
Purchases from Daycare Funds
These statements were for purchases made by daycare employees for our school daycare programs. Items purchased included snacks, activity supplies and field trip expenses. School daycares are self-funded through fees paid by parents for daycare services. Per Tennessee Department of Education requirements, monies raised through daycare fees can only be used on expenses for the children served in that school’s daycare.
Charge to hold rooms for student competition
This statement represents where Mrs. Hudson used her P-card to hold a block of rooms for Beech High School students for a HOSA competition. The hold was later credited back to the card, and the hotel fee was paid through Beech High School activity funds.
Federal and State grant P-Card Purchases
The bulk of Mrs. Monette’s purchases are supplies for our Unity.Com program. Included are also travel expenses for two conferences that Mrs. Monette is required to attend in order to administer the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. This grant brings $408,000 into our district for our Unity.com program. Unity.com is an after-school academic enrichment program funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Education. The goal of the program is to strengthen students’ attachment to school, improve their academic performance, and successfully engage students and families in school-based cultural, technological, recreational and academic activities in a safe learning environment. Unity.Com is currently in operation in four elementary schools, eight middle schools, and three high schools. It is funded by two grants from the Tennessee Department of Education - the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant and LEAPS Grant. All purchases made with state and federal grant funds are subjected to additional auditing requirements from the state and federal government.
These purchases represent school supplies that were purchased for our backpack program from money donated for that purpose. Mrs. Monette’s office provides school supplies to underprivileged students in our school district. Sumner County Schools receives anonymous donations from private donors to provide for the needs of homeless and needy students. These funds are specifically donated to be used for that purpose and are separately accounted for within our budget.
These purchases are classroom supplies for our district’s English Learner’s (EL) program. These purchases are funded by federal Title III funds. Title III is the portion of the No Child Left Behind federal funds that serves English as a Second Language Students. Through Title III, students who have a primary language other than English receive instruction in English in a specialized setting. Additionally, Title III federal funds are used in helping these students meet the same challenging state standards required of all students. All purchases made with state and federal grant funds are subjected to additional auditing requirements from the state and federal government.
These purchases are made using federal IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) funding. Under the law, this funding is to be used only on students eligible for special education services. All purchases represented in this statement meet federal purchasing requirements. All purchases made with state and federal grant funds are subjected to additional auditing requirements from the state and federal government.