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Improper spending charged; schools books being audited

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / April 16, 1998

VACHERIE – Someone gave St. James Parish School Board members areason to believe money was spent improperly at St. James Junior HighSchool.

They are now waiting for a report from Superintendent John Boughton on an audit they requested of the school’s general funds budget.

Board members don’t know who spent the funds or what they were spent on – they only know they got a tip from former St. James Junior Highsecretary Patricia Adams, said board president John Schexnayder.

Adams filed a sexual harassment complaint about a year ago against St.

James Junior High Principal John Brass, and in the same breath, Schexnayder said, she warned administrators to check the records at the school.

“She said that the books needed to be audited,” Schexnayder said.

But Adams, who is now working as a teacher’s aide at Sixth Ward Elementary, a St. James Parish school right next door to St. James JuniorHigh, said she never told board members that.

Adams said Brass requested the audit in hopes of showing an unbalanced account, which would result in the termination of her job.

“They were looking for a way to get rid of me,” Adams said. “He (Brass)called in the auditor.

“The books didn’t balance, and he was trying to show them that I was incompetent,” Adams added. “But naturally it wouldn’t balance if thechecks weren’t cleared.”Brass refused comment on the matter.

Currently, in order to find out where the funds went and who put them there, Clint Rouyea, internal auditor for the central office, has been working on the audit for several months, Schexnayder said.

Although Adams seemed to know what the money was used for, she wouldn’t say when asked.

“I don’t want to try to get revenge for what he did to me,” Adams said.

“It’s something I don’t care to relive. My life is in God’s hands, and God isin control and not me.”Schexnayder said all of the schools’ budgets are routinely audited each year, but this is a special case where St. James Junior High’s budget isbeing examined more closely to find out the financial status of the school.

Schexnayder said a deadline was never set for the presentation of the audit, but he believes it will be soon.

“There’s all kinds of speculation out there now,” Schexnayder said. “Thereport should be in real soon. I don’t think it will be too long.”Boughton had no comment on the matter.

“I haven’t received a final report from my auditors yet, so I don’t want to make any comment,” he said.

But Boughton did say Rouyea was almost finished with the audit.

Schexnayder hopes the report will be in soon so speculation can end.

“Everything is speculation,” Schexnayder said. “And we haven’t gotten anofficial report from the superintendent yet.”

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