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St. Joseph School Board Fires Another Administrator, Demotes HR Director

Sam Zeff

In a move long anticipated by many in St. Joseph, Mo., the Board of Education voted in closed session Thursday night to fire its chief operating officer and demote its human resources director.

The vote was announced in a statement issued early Friday afternoon.

Gone is COO Rick Hartigan who's been on paid administrative leave for about five weeks. Hartigan has been with the district for 26 years, first as communications director. He was promoted to COO ten years ago. He's a former newspaper reporter in St. Joseph.

Doug Flowers was a principal before being promoted to HR director in 2006. The board voted to offer him a teaching contract for the 2015-16 school year. The district says he'll be reassigned other administrative duties until June 30.

Hartigan and Flowers, sources say, are at the center of several investigations into the district.

Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR
St. Joseph School District HR Director Doug Flowers has been demoted by the board of education. He'll be offered a teaching contract.

Both have been interviewed numerous times by the FBI and both were criticized in the Missouri State Auditor's report.

The auditor questioned the $3,400 remodeling job Hartigan had done on his district office, including a $1,500 painting. As COO Hartigan was in charge of all vendor contracts with the district.

Hartigan and former superintendent Fred Czerwonka were placed on paid administrative leave after the school board reviewed a draft of the state audit. Czerwonka was fired last week.

Two weeks ago Hartiganheld a news conferenceand defiantly denied he did anything wrong. He said the district has humiliated him and his family. He also denied that he's a target of the FBI investigation.

The state auditor criticized Flowers inadequate recording keeping, poor tracking of overtime pay and having lax nepotism rules. His wife, Tammy, runs the district's preschool programs and was given a controversial raise and promotion last year.

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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