Secretary padded salary with grant

  • Follow Metro

Although not illegal, nearly $20,000 in federal grant money intended for vocational education was instead set aside by a school secretary to pay herself for performing clerical duties involved with the grant, officials say.

James Thompson, the interim superintendent for Richmond County schools, said he not only stopped the grant supplements, but also is reviewing other grants and drafting a policy to provide more oversight.

"At this point, it is apparent, based on the evidence, there was no criminal intent to do wrong, nor was there any criminal act committed," Mr. Thompson wrote in a memo responding to an open records request filed by The Augusta Chronicle. "In fact," he wrote, "the Career-Technical Secretary was up front and open throughout the entire process."

Mr. Thompson acknowledged in an interview, however, that it probably wasn't the best use of the grant, which was meant to serve vocational students. The pay raise was out of line and not proportionate to the work she did with the grant, he said.

The most recent Georgia Department of Education records show the secretary is paid $24,684 and has been working in Richmond County for seven years.

According to the Carl D. Perkins grant application, the funding must be used to "improve vocational and technical education programs."

Once the grant was awarded to the school system, the secretary developed a budget, which included money to supplement her salary, Mr. Thompson's memo states. This budget was approved by the Georgia Department of Education.

The secretary - not named in the memo - discovered, however, that she was allowed up to 5 percent of the grant to cover administrative costs, so she raised her pay and submitted an amended budget, which also was approved by the state, according to Mr. Thompson.

According to his memo, she even questioned state officials about how much could be used to fund clerical salaries before assigning a portion for her pay. The grant allows up to 5 percent to be used for this purpose. The grant totaled more than $400,000 for each of the years in question.

For 16 months, the school system's payroll department had to override its procedures because her pay exceeded the pay scale of her position.

For the first couple of months, she gave herself $416.67 over her regular pay each month. That was raised to $833.34 for the next two months. For the next year, she raised it to $1,416.67 a month, according to Mr. Thompson.

He said he became aware of the secretary's enhanced pay "shortly after" taking over as interim superintendent Nov. 1.

"No one condones the lack of process followed in this case," Mr. Thompson wrote in his memo. "While the secretary was above board throughout the application process, it is reasonable to assume she should have known a more formal approval was needed."

School board member Frank Dolan, who serves as the school board's finance chairman, said the situation demonstrates "extraordinarily poor judgment" on the part of the secretary and her supervisors.

"Now that this has seen the light of day, I am certain we are going to tighten measures," the businessman said, calling the lack of controls "highly unusual."

"But I can promise you this is coming to a screeching halt as soon as we get our hands around this one," he said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT:

Interim Superintendent James Thompson will make policy recommendations to the Richmond County Board of Education to provide better oversight of grant money. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 8 at the board's central offices, 864 Broad St.

Comments (22) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
gnx
7
Points
gnx 02/24/07 - 05:16 am
0
0
Can someone explain exactly

Can someone explain exactly why the payroll department overrode procedures for 16 months and none of the supervisors or persons overseeing the grant caught on to this? If anything, the money should have been used to fund part of her regular salary, not supplement it. Even if spread over a couple of years $20K is a hefty bonus for that salary level.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 02/24/07 - 05:29 am
0
0
The first time a question

The first time a question came up about her payroll check, there should have been an investigation. Well, if the secretary was doing it above board and her superiors knew about it , makes her very smart in my book. If not, just a criminal....Was extra time being spent on it or just normal working hours? A 53% salary increase in a government employee.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 02/24/07 - 06:36 am
0
0
I question the statement,

I question the statement, "although not illegal". Surely the intention of providing for payment of administration costs did not mean over and above what she was already making in salary. It meant the grant could be used to pay part of her salary, not a raise. If the system is this loose, and no supervisory approval was needed, then Richmond County needs to put some rules in place. While it may not be "illegal", it was unethical and wrong, I don't care how "above board" she was with the issue. As far as the payroll department having to do extra work to pay her, someone should have questioned this practice. Maybe new supervision and a new secretary is in order!!!

Ole School
0
Points
Ole School 02/24/07 - 06:54 am
0
0
not illegal ? how about

not illegal ? how about Criminal , that is more like it !

moparman30909
0
Points
moparman30909 02/24/07 - 07:08 am
0
0
read the third paragraph

read the third paragraph people ,it says there was no criminal intent to do wrong nor was a criminal act commited,looks to me like she was just using the grant system the way it was written.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 02/24/07 - 07:25 am
0
0
Surely the grant system is

Surely the grant system is not that loose and wide open. How many businesses and government systems will allow a person to give themselves a raise? None that I know of! As far as criminal intent, that is the opinion of Mr. Thompson!!

migmack
0
Points
migmack 02/24/07 - 07:42 am
0
0
While to some it may seem

While to some it may seem unethical, she did nothing wrong. She made a smart business decision for her self, and the school system. Instead of hiring an administrator to handle the grant she performed the duties her self saving over $5,000 is salary exspense. Not to mention the other expenses incured from adding another position, which that position wouldnt go away after the grant money disapeared.

fran
1
Points
fran 02/24/07 - 08:41 am
0
0
I'm sure she was open and

I'm sure she was open and upfront...what else could she do when she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar?

TAG1313
0
Points
TAG1313 02/24/07 - 08:50 am
0
0
Stealing should be made

Stealing should be made legal. Give yourself a raise, and nobody cares that the way RCBE has been run. They got unapproved loans in advance why not get unapproved raise. Larke lives on.

AugustaHeph homeowner
0
Points
AugustaHeph homeowner 02/24/07 - 09:47 am
0
0
This is nothing new, let me

This is nothing new, let me tell you: Take computers home-supposely to work on college work-ha!ha! Same work that they did while working for 7 1/2 hours, while not doing RCBOE work they always did their own school work and let's minimize it when someone comes in the office- Give me a break--Charles Larke let his people do what they wanted from Secretaries to Data Clerks-to Bookkeepers, they all come from the same mold. Go home 4 or more times a day to use the bathroom, do college homework while at work, leave during regular work hours to go to school while others do your work- get your CERTIFICATE and pay yourself more MONEY- how much more do I need to say. This is not a new practice and yes you can exceed payscale, the more CERTIFICATES you print the more raise you can give yourself and your friends. Lets also add Clocking in or signing in and out, some employees get docked if they don't -other people just put time down at the end of two week period or not at all and also never get docked even if you are actually out, check your records at different schools- MR. Thompson you will find a lot going on.

crymeariver
0
Points
crymeariver 02/24/07 - 10:40 am
0
0
are they hiring??? i need a

are they hiring??? i need a raise and a bonus!!!

crymeariver
0
Points
crymeariver 02/24/07 - 10:41 am
0
0
Im sure if you search long

Im sure if you search long enough, you will find the name Larke somewhere in her family ties.

luckie
2
Points
luckie 02/24/07 - 10:43 am
0
0
I think the person that did

I think the person that did this should have their name printed in the paper. This is another example of mispropriation. I don't have any glue, crayons, or construction paper in my room. I have to buy it myself. We need an overhaul at the Board.

luckie
2
Points
luckie 02/24/07 - 10:47 am
0
0
A day late and a dollar

A day late and a dollar short.......... As thelast paragraph says this is coming to a screeching halt as soon as we get our hands around this one... How long will it take? The documentation is there. The payroll department better watch out. The whole department needs to be investigated. I am curious if people at the board get stipends to visit school evening events. The teachers don't.

intheknow
16
Points
intheknow 02/24/07 - 12:08 pm
0
0
I knew there would be at

I knew there would be at least one butt hole that woulg mention Larke's name. There is not a peron in any job with that many employees that could be aware of evry single detail that goes on. Thats why they have different department heads. So you YAHOOs that love to blame Larke for the rain falling, GET A LIFE.

TAG1313
0
Points
TAG1313 02/24/07 - 04:17 pm
0
0
Yes, Larke ran a tight ship

Yes, Larke ran a tight ship with the tax payers money. But it's not his falt he's just the head man with a hugh paycheck himself. It has to be somebody elk's falt no body is minding the store....

DCFONE
1
Points
DCFONE 02/24/07 - 05:08 pm
0
0
Durn!!!! Ya' just gotta know

Durn!!!! Ya' just gotta know how to beat the system. Spin those dollar signs and get them in the line most beneficial to your self. Guess I'm in the wrong business. Wow!! Who'da thunk it?

fedup1
0
Points
fedup1 02/24/07 - 05:12 pm
0
0
Richmond County

Richmond County again.......seems like the proper thing to do is terminate every one from the person who started it thru who ever was in charge of signing off for this transaction to occur... once again the county is exposed...no checks and balances for the system..

getalife
4
Points
getalife 02/24/07 - 05:58 pm
0
0
When I worked, I could never

When I worked, I could never give myself or anyone that worked for me a raise, without the approval of my manager. The secretary was already being paid for 40 hours. Did she have to work extra time to do the grant. Maybe part of her regular job was to handle the grants. Maybe someone else also handled administration of the grant, did they get a raise. It is down right scary to think that a county school system and a county government is run as loose as Richmond County. No wonder there is a shortage of money and the budget has serious problems. Legal or illegal, saved money or not, it was out of order and unethical, and a practice that needs control.

MyOpinion2
5
Points
MyOpinion2 02/24/07 - 08:54 pm
0
0
The secretary and her

The secretary and her supervisor need to be fired immediately for insubordination! This is unacceptable! She needs to pay back the money she stole.

behonest1
2
Points
behonest1 02/24/07 - 11:46 pm
0
0
Why should this surprise

Why should this surprise anyone? She had a good teacher remember Dr. Lark. Remember he had the whole school board so scared that they would not get rid of him? Maybe it was not illigal but it shold have been. The secretary should do the right thing and return the money. Who ever allowed this should be terminated. The saga goes on what next. Richmond county why do you allow people who work for you to continue to steal and cheat your children? I am sure glad my children attended private schools, where they received a good education.

Unique Ed Techie
1
Points
Unique Ed Techie 02/27/07 - 10:56 pm
0
0
So why aren't all of us

So why aren't all of us filing a complaint with the Office of the IG? Anyone with knowledge or information can call 404-656-7924 or toll free 866-435-7644, or fax the complaint to 404.657.9716, or email inspector.general@oig.ga.gov or regular mail delivery. The complaint form is available from the OIG website http://oig.georgia.gov The reporters of this story along with the readers and online responders should be reporting fraud, waste, and abuse of their tax dollars to someone or agency that can hold the RCBOE accountable. Be one part of the solution, one parent complains they are written off...when a group of tax payers complains they have to be acknowledged.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews votes yes on female members

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews has voted overwhelmingly to admit female members for the first time. The club, exclusively for men since it was founded in Scotland 260 years ago, ...
Search Augusta jobs