Thursday, January 23, 2014

Accountability at last?

This from Toni at C-J:

PRP principal placed on non-instructional duties 

after state audit on questionable expenses

Pleasure Ridge Park High School Principal David Johnson was placed on non-instructional duties Tuesday while the district investigates allegations that the school’s activity fund accounts were used improperly.

David Johnson
Johnson was “re-assigned to the central office” until further notice, said Ben Jackey, a spokesman for Jefferson County Public Schools.

“This investigation is regarding expenditures involving the PRP activity accounts and those who would have involvement with them,” Jackey said.

Johnson, who has been principal at the school since 2003, has been under scrutiny since the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability released a report in December stating that he allowed a private business to operate on school property and that he oversaw nearly $300,000 in expenses that were improper or undocumented.

Johnson didn’t respond to phone messages. As of October 2012, Johnson was paid $144,841 as principal; he will keep that pay during his re-assignment.

The OEA report was the result of a state investigation initiated after the agency received complaints that Johnson had violated district policies and state regulations for letting for-profit baseball ventures operate on PRP property, failing to follow proper construction procedures and using the school’s activity fund and credit card for questionable purchases, including a $1,900 stay at an oceanfront condo in Myrtle Beach before a baseball tournament.

Bil Miller
Jackey said last week the district was waiting on the results of an internal audit to determine whether disciplinary action should be taken.

“That audit has since been completed,” Jackey said Tuesday, but said the results won’t be released until the investigation is over.

Jackey said he did not know if the district’s investigation also included PRP head baseball coach Bill Miller, who the state investigated over allegations he operated his for-profit business on school property without board approval. Miller didn’t return a phone call for comment...

This editorial from the Courier-Journal:
Maybe it took an official accountability organization to force accountability on Pleasure Ridge Park High School principal David Johnson. If so, it’s about time.

Despite previous warnings in the form of written reprimand and suspension by the Jefferson County School District, as well as appalling testimony in the Max Gilpin case as to his lax standards and practices of leadership and management, Mr. Johnson had continued to gather his approximate $145,000 salary while apparently not cleaning up his act. It seems no one — not Mr. Johnson and not the district that kept him on the payroll and in his position — learned from his past mistakes.

As The Courier-Journal’s Antoinette Konz has reported, the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability received complaints indicating the principal still ran a very un-tight ship. The group investigated the complaints, including that Mr. Johnson used the school’s activity fund and credit card for questionable purchases. OEA’s report, released in December, found the school’s baseball coach, Bill Miller, ran a private, for-profit business from PRP and that Mr. Johnson oversaw $292,000 in improper or undocumented expenses.

All of which caused us to question, editorially, why the principal still had a job at PRP. We’ll add the coach to the mix today, too.

Well, the JCPS shoe dropped on Tuesday, when the district moved Mr. Johnson out of PRP and into non-instructional duties at the central office — still collecting his salary — while the district’s own investigation into his use of school funds continues.

Presumably that investigation also will include Mr. Miller’s activities as an entrepreneur on, and using, school property. If it doesn’t, it should. And if it doesn’t, why not?

Schools are for educating kids. They are not fiefdoms for feathering the nests and egos of administrators and coaches. While the vast majority of adults in schools operate for the benefit of the children who are their charges, the OEA report has exposed PRP’s principal and baseball coach as playing by their own rules. Even if what they are found to have done wrong is not illegal, it’s not a good example for them to be setting, and it’s not a lesson kids should be learning from them.

Accountability goes beyond the principal and the coach — to the district that supervises them. Once its investigation is finished, and professional verdicts are reached, the public is owed some explanations.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the problem goes further up the chain. Why wouldn't someone within a system call into question a bill for 2 grand at a beach condo or notice that things were being built at the school without authorizaiton?

Richard Day said...

Great question. Maybe Donna Hargens will deal with him, where Shelly Berman never would.

Anonymous said...

My experience with these things are they are not just rooted in an individual but an entire good old boy culture which is lead by folks who think they are above the rules and entitled due to mutual reinforcement by parents of the same mind. Gonna require a lot more cleaning house than just a principal or coach - there is an entire toxic culture which will have to be reckoned with.