District Attorney’s Inaction Covers-Up School Board’s Cover-Up???
By Robert A. Williams
Shelby-By now everybody has heard that the Cleveland County District Attorney, Richard Leroy Shaffer, Jr., will not release the findings of the SBI investigation of the Credit Card Scandal at the Cleveland County Schools. Leroy, to date, also has not filed any charges in the matter. Or prosecuted anybody in the case.
This is not surprising considering Leroy’s record as District Attorney. When Leroy ran for DA in 2006 he was always bragging about him being a “prosecutor” and all. Since Leroy was elected, we have tried to catch Leroy prosecuting a case in court. Over these 7+ years we caught Leroy prosecuting four cases and those cases were misdemeanors. Two counts of “littering.” Leroy lost both cases. One count of destruction of private property. Leroy lost that case too. And one count of Assault on a Female. Leroy won that case although I am not aware of anybody charged with assault on a female being found not-guilty since the days when George Hamrick was Judge and the various women’s groups got onto him for finding a man not guilty of the charge. That was back in the early 90s to my recollection.
But to be fair and balanced with Leroy Shaffer, the self proclaimed prosecutor failed to vigorously prosecute anyone after the school related YAP (Youth Assistance Program) scandal several years ago when school and county money was fraudulently spent by YAP officials on personal items. Leroy also never prosecuted Thurman “Soupy” Price for allegedly murdering Brenda Sue Brown over 40 years ago. Soupy died of old age without ever serving a minute.
The fact that Leroy is a such poor prosecutor and will not release SBI files proves nothing in regard to the ongoing scandal at Cleveland County Schools. The real issue at CCS is why the School Board did nothing and what was the School Board’s responsibility. AND, was there a cover-up and is there a continuing cover-up??? I’m going to lay out the facts that I have found and you can make up your minds yourselves.
First of all, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to CCS for the Credit Card transactions at CCS for the past 7 years. So far I have received only 6,314 transaction records out of 560,000 records the School Board says they have. In my Freedom of Information Act request I also asked for the same Credit Card records that the School Board sent to the SBI. I was planning to do my own review of those records to get an idea on what kind of job the SBI was doing. Incredibly, the School Board says they did not keep any record of what they sent to the SBI. I smell a rat with that kind of reply.
But, the School Board says that no matter, those records sent to the SBI are mixed up in the 560,000 records and it will take 22 months or so to sort out those records for me to see. Also the School Board says they will have to hire someone to go through those records and it will cost the Schools over $50,000. That tells me the School Board themselves never looked at any Credit Card records and they don’t want me to either.
So, what is the School Board’s responsibility to look into such financial shenanigans that have been going on for the past several years at CCS? Remember, we do have 6,314 records of credit card transactions from 22 cards totaling over half a million dollars. About 65% of those records are questionable and the improper used of school credit cards overall could be millions of dollars.
But let’s get back to the School Board. What should the School Board have done and what legal authority did the School Board have to investigate their internal scandal themselves?
The facts are the Cleveland County local School Board has enormous power under NC State Laws to conduct investigations. NC General Statute 115C-45 provides Judicial Functions of Local School Boards. They have the right to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, compel testimony and punish with contempt of court powers if witnesses don’t show up or if there is disorderly conduct. The School Board can hold hearings for any alleged breach of Federal or State Law, State Board Rules and local School Board Policies. NC General Statute 115C-47 provides 61 Powers and Duties of the School Board to oversee, make rules, collect and receive money, properly pay bills, etc.
All in all, the Cleveland County Board of Education had (and still has such rights even up to this very day) every legal right and also the duty to hold their own investigation regarding the Credit Card Scandal and administer disciplinary action or punishment for violations of School Board Policy that are found. The fact that the School Board did not and apparently will not fulfill their duty to investigate this matter appears to be in violation of North Carolina law all by itself.
Then, there is the matter of the School Board dragging their feet in obeying the law related to Senate Bill 402 which would pour about $100,000 into additional pay for the best 25% of teachers. Also, SB402 adds about $183 million into Education this year on top of an additional $400 million last year. Cleveland County’s share should be another $1.83 million this year on top of $4 million more last year. Yet, the CCS Board says the state is cutting teacher pay while the Board managing to spend or waste all of the extra money on something besides teachers.
Hmmmm. It appears to me that the biggest lawbreakers at the Cleveland County Schools are the School Board Members themselves. Perhaps DA Richard Leroy Shaffer, Jr. should be thinking about prosecuting the past and present School Board members who refuse to obey the laws of North Carolina (all of them) in regard to their duty as a School Board member.
And don’t forget; look at your property tax bill the Cleveland County Commissioners send to you every year. See how much of your tax money the Commissioners take from you to send to the money hungry crowd at the Cleveland County Schools without asking one question on why the school administration makes so much money and the teachers make so little? Why the school administrators run up thousands of dollars eating at the Country Club while the teachers eat with the kids?
Also, Thank Commissioners Jason Falls and Eddie Holbrook by voting for someone else at the ballot box this year. This is the only way Falls and Holbrook (and the other Commissioners) will ever get the message. We can get rid of some more School Board members who allow so much waste and won’t do their duty in next year’s elections.
Every election day we have the opportunity to get rid of some dead wood. Ain’t politics great!!!