UPDATE: Two School Employees Face Criminal Investigation Amid Theft Allegations

By: Cathleen Moxley, Katelyn Sykes Email
By: Cathleen Moxley, Katelyn Sykes Email

UPDATE 6/21/12 @ 5 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Theft allegations forced two Kanawha County maintenance workers to resign.

In April, the same two men were accused of using your tax dollars to buy hunting jackets, as well as taking air conditioners and scrap metal.

On Thursday, WSAZ.com learned both men are now under investigation by police.

The Kanawha County Board of Education is taking this matter very seriously and wants to make sure it won’t ever happen again. Thursday night, Kanawha County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Ron Duerring, is reporting to the board what measures will be taken so it doesn’t.

It’s an incident that’s sent shockwaves through Kanawha County schools.

Two maintenance workers accused of theft, forcing an extensive investigation.

"We found all of the tools that we're supposedly missing,” Duerring said. “We've documented, taken pictures of that. The one thing that we haven't found are some air conditioners. There were about seven of those that we still have not found."

There are two employees, resigning. Dr. Duerring won’t identify the men saying it’s a personnel matter but he did say he wants them prosecuted.

"We have turned our information over to the prosecuting attorney and to the sheriff's department for investigation," Duerring said.

Duerring said throughout their investigation they found out one employee seemed to be at the center of it all, while a second employee played a very small role.

Duerring doesn’t believe anyone else was involved.

While the tools were found and procedures are in place to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again, Duerring said the missing air conditioners still strike a nerve.

"Those could have been air conditioners in our schools, cooling our kids," Duerring said. "It's very frustrating to me because anytime that we do anything like that, that's money and time taken away from kids and educating them in our schools, keeping them in comfortable environments and doing what we need to do for them."

The schools have since adopted the use of P-cars for purchasing. Those will have a limited amount of money and will also limit what can be bought on them.

As for the petty cash issue, the board now works with one scrap metal place and employees will no longer be given any money or checks for scrap metal. It’ll have to be directly deposited to the school system.

Duerring said the state department is also coming in to do a business efficiency study in July to make sure all of their new procedures in place are adequate and appropriate.

UPDATE 5/1/12 @ 8:45 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha County Board of Education is taking steps to make sure taxpayer's don't have to cover the cost of fraud again.

The board approved a new system Monday that allows the board to keep track of major purchases.

Five to 10 cards will be put into circulation, serving as credit cards.

Board members say everything will be recorded and tracked.

This comes after two maintenance workers were caught using county cards in a money making scheme, according to board members.

Board President Pete Thaw tells WSAZ.com there has to be a crackdown on the purchasing department.

"I think the card system may be opening the door to a way we improve our controls at creed. We've got to improve our controls at creed," Thaw said. "We cannot tolerate what's been going on. "

The cards will be tested for three months. If the test is successful the board plans to expand the program.

Board members tell WSAZ.com the two maintenance supervisors have resigned and other workers are under close watch.

WSAZ.com is not releasing the names of the two maintenance workers until they're officially charged with the crimes.

Kanawha County Schools and the sheriff's office are investigating the recent incident.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha County Board of Education is cracking down on spending. Two employees are accused of using your tax dollars in ways that have nothing to do with your child's education.

“There's no reason why anybody in the Kanawha County school system anywhere, a maintenance worker or anybody, would need to get hunting jackets from a vendor,” Superintendent Dr. Ron Duerring said.

He says four hunting jackets were ordered by two maintenance workers with education dollars.

“The minute we received that we went into an investigation immediately,” Duerring said.

The jackets are just the tip of the iceberg. Investigators also discovered air conditioning units purchased through the school system that are nowhere to be found. They also learned that scrap metal had been taken from schools and sold.

The two maintenance supervisors have resigned and other workers are under close watch.

“We're investigating both, but we're gonna investigate anybody else that's had a hand in it,” Duering said. “It's disappointing. You put your faith in people.”

The main goal is to prevent it from happening again. A new policy requires all scrap metal to be taken to one vendor, and checks written directly to the school system. Also, a new purchasing card system will restrict buying privileges.

“It's not fair to the taxpayers, but more importantly than that it's not fair to the kids,” Duerring said. “Because then our children lose out on things being taken care of in their school or they lose out on something that we may be able to do academically because the money's not there. That to me is inexcusable.”

The $400 worth of hunting jackets has been returned since the jackets were sent back. They're still looking to see how much money was lost because of the scrap metal and air conditioning units.

WSAZ.com is not releasing the names of the two maintenance workers until they're officially charged with the crimes.

Kanawha County Schools and the sheriff's office are investigating.

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