By Victor Skinner
FLINT, Mich. – An assistant superintendent was sent packing by the Genesee Intermediate School District for allegedly embezzling nearly $88,000 for a lavish affair with the former superintendent.
The school board voted unanimously to fire Beverly Knox-Pipes last week after an audit showed the former assistant superintendent forged expense sheets, extended conference stays and backdated documents with the superintendent’s electronic signature.
The audit found Knox-Pipes spent almost $88,000 “to fund unapproved travel and an affair with former superintendent, Thomas Svitkvoch,” MINBCnews.com reports.
“We’re hoping to maintain some public trust through this and provide transparency that this kind of conduct is just unacceptable,” the GISD’s current superintendent, Lisa Hagel, told the news site.
“We’re appalled at the behavior of these two individuals,” she said.
Michigan State Police are now handling a criminal investigation into the alleged embezzlement.
The district became suspicious of Knox-Pipes when it switched cellular phone companies and realized the assistant superintendent issued several phones to nonemployees. The audit shows the alleged phone scam cost the district $17,000, MINBCnews.com reports.
We believe that part of the reason school officials like Knox-Pipes are able to abuse the system is because of a lack of accountability and transparency that plagues school districts across the nation. EAGnews.org has requested phone records and other financial information from school officials in numerous states, and can attest to the difficulty in securing these types of spending records.
We’re convinced that school officials themselves rarely review the information.
If school districts, particularly ones with a history of abuse by officials, simply posted their check registry and spending records online, these types of situations would become far less common. Public scrutiny of district spending would help keep officials honest.
The district’s vow to bring more transparency is nice, but actions speak louder than words.