School officials to investigate 'financial and personnel matters' at career academy

April 6, 2011 

  • The public Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence is owned jointly by the school districts in Beaufort and Jasper counties and serves students from both counties. By law, Beaufort County pays two-thirds of the school's operating costs, and Jasper County one-third.

    The governing board for the career center includes three members from the Beaufort County school board and three members from the Jasper County school board.

Unspecified "financial and personnel matters" at the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence will be investigated this month by the superintendents of the Beaufort and Jasper county school districts, district officials say.

The academy's board voted unanimously after a closed session Monday to initiate the internal inquiry, according to Beaufort County schools superintendent Valerie Truesdale.

The board asked the two superintendents to report back by April 29.

Earl Campbell, ACE board chairman, said phone calls and emails he and other board members received from school employees prompted the action.

"There have been some concerns that came up over the past couple of weeks dealing with finance and personnel matters," Campbell said.

He declined to elaborate.

The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet received a copy of an anonymous letter, dated March 28, that has been circulated among school board members and "other governing interests" outlining 62 concerns about the school's management. The claims involve a wide range of academic, leadership, personnel and financial issues, such as missed deadlines for posting employees' contributions to their state retirement accounts after the money was withheld from paychecks.

Truesdale said in a written statement that recent changes in accounting firms have led to some delayed postings of employees' retirement payments. The statement didn't address other claims made in the letter or indicate whether she had seen the letter.

The ACE board instructed the school's director to prepare a request for proposals to help the academy hire a financial services firm for the upcoming school year, she said.

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