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The House Cleaning In The St. Joseph School District Continues

Sam Zeff

In a surprise move, a St. Joseph School District board member resigned Thursday morning.

Dr. Dan Colgan is a former board president and was superintendent for 14 years in the district before retiring in 2006 and getting elected to the school board.

In a terse letter to school board president Brad Haggard, Colgan said this was a difficult decision because he "dearly" loves the district. Colgan went on to write that "...it is best for me to step down for the sake of mending the District for for my own health and wellbeing."

Fellow school board member Chris Danford says she was surprised by the timing of Colgan’s resignation but thinks it’s the right thing for him to do. “I think it was time for Dr. Colgan to move on so the district can move forward.”

Controversy has dogged the St. Joseph district for almost an entire year.

It started when it was revealed last April that former superintendent Fred Czerwonka providedsecret $5,000 stipendsto 54 top administrators.

Sources say Colgan, at the time board president, approved those payments in return for a promotion and raise for his son, Mark, who manages the district's warehouse. No one else on the board was aware of those now infamous stipends.

Mark Colgan's promotion was singled out in the state audit for a lack of documentation supporting his raise and new title.

After those stipends became public the FBI and a federal grand jury began investigating the district.

Soon after the probes began, Colgan retained a prominent white collar criminal lawyer in Kansas City, according to sources.

The state audit also severely criticized the district for too many no-bid contracts, a lack of overtime control and numerous violations of the Missouri Sunshine Act. Colgan was either superintendent or board president during much of the time covered by the audit.

The district was also taken to task by the audit for agreeing to provide Colgan with lifetime health care benefits after he retired.

Colgan grew up in North St. Joseph and spent his entire career in the district. Before becoming superintendent he was HR director.

In the last three weeks the school board has fired former superintendent Fred Czerwonka, former COO Rick Hartigan and former HR director Doug Flowers.

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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