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St. Joseph School Board Meets In Tense, Day-Long Session

Sam Zeff

The St. Joseph School Board spent a tense eight hours behind closed doors Tuesday.

Board members spent more than five hours with investigators from the Missouri State Auditors office, going through the 49-page draft report page-by-page.

Those who’ve seen the report won’t discuss specific recommendations but describe it as "scathing."

After the meeting, board president Brad Haggard refused to discuss the audit's findings or recommendations. The district will write a response that will become part of the report.

"There's always going to be room for improvement in an audit and in whatever areas they've noted we're going to improve on," Haggard says.

If the meeting with the auditors was tense in only got worse after they left the building.

That's when the board called in Rick Hartigan, the district’s chief operating officer.

Hartigan came with his lawyer and a court reporter to record the proceedings.

After about an hour Hartigan left the building with his attorney without comment.

Haggard also wouldn’t comment on whether the board took any personnel action during its meeting. However, it is legal for the board to vote on personnel matters and not release that decision for up to 72 hours.

The St. Joseph School District has been in turmoil since last spring when it was revealed that Superintendent Fred Czerwonka handed out $5,000 bonuses to 54 administrators without school board approval.

That lead to the discovery of other unapproved payments to staff, an FBI investigation, federal grand jury subpoenas and a slander lawsuit filed against the district by its CFO.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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