October 22, 2013
FRANKFORT – Auditor Adam Edelen on Tuesday released a special examination of the Martin County Schools, finding lax oversight by the Board of Education and questionable activities involving the former superintendent.
The examination found that the former superintendent assigned his wife to a position that allowed her to maintain her previous salary and job duties, which appears to have resulted in grant non-compliance causing the use of Title I, Part A grant funds to be questioned. The wife was paid $50,000 more than the previous employee who held this position, which in total cost the District an additional $200,000 over four years. This issue was referred to the Kentucky Department of Education for further investigation.
The examination also found that the former superintendent awarded a privately funded scholarship to two of his children and two other known relatives of district personnel. District staff and board members had no or minimal knowledge of the scholarship or recipient selection process.
“This examination once again demonstrates the need for boards to get engaged and properly oversee the activities of their superintendents,” Auditor Edelen said. “I applaud this Board for embracing the recommendations in our report and using them to strengthen oversight and controls moving forward.”
Board Chairman Craig Preece said in the response to the exam, “When first notified that your office would be conducting an examination of certain administrative activities in our district, the thought of yet another negative blow to the integrity of Martin County Schools was not a pleasant one. However, it was quickly welcomed as an additional strategy to help us correct course in several areas of district operations.”
The examination is the 14th completed by the Auditor’s office in the past year. These examinations are the first-ever meaningful entry by the Auditor’s office into public education.
“Education is the largest taxpayer investment in the Commonwealth and the most important function of our government,” Auditor Edelen said. “My purpose is to make sure our limited resources are making their way to the classroom rather than supporting excessive and questionable benefits for central office staff.”
The Martin County Schools examination also found that the former superintendent’s contract contained redundant or unclear benefits and that the Board did not adhere to statutory requirements related to the evaluation of the former superintendent.
The Auditor’s office has found issues with superintendent contracts in exams conducted in five other school districts. The Auditor previously recommended that KDE require districts to submit superintendent contracts to KDE for posting on a publicly-accessible website. KDE accepted the recommendation and all but one district have submitted their superintendent contracts.
The full report can be found on the Auditor’s website, http://auditor.ky.gov.