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Scandal-Plagued St. Joseph School District Faces IRS Audit

Just when things were starting to look a little brighter in the St. Joseph School District, the IRS has stepped into the picture.

On Monday afternoon, the district received notice from the agency saying IRS auditors will be in district headquarters for three days next month examining a wide variety of information.

According to a news release from the district, the IRS will audit documents ranging from board minutes and organizational charts to employment contracts and termination agreements.

The IRS joins the FBI and a federal grand jury looking into the district. There is no indication that the IRS is pursuing a criminal case.

It was just three weeks ago that a sense of relief swept through the district.

Former Superintendent Fred Czerwonak, whose rocky two-year tenure opened up the district to the current investigations, was headed to the Missouri Bootheel for a new job. At about the same time, the district announced it had hired Dr. Robert Newhart as interim superintendent. By all accounts, Newhart has made a positive impression. He starts July 1.

“We intend to fully comply and answer each of the items addressed in the IRS request,” Brad Haggard, board of education president said in a statement.

This IRS audit comes months after a scathing Missouri state auditor report that uncovered up to $40 million in unapproved stipends, irregularities in contracting and lax documentation in handing out some raises and promotions. Also singled out was a life time health benefit granted to former superintendent and school board President Dan Colgan. 

The district says the IRS plans to conduct its audit July 21-24.

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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