Misuse of Funds Allegations at Chiles High School Results in District-Wide Audit

Misuse of Funds Allegations at Chiles High School Results in District-Wide Audit

Based on information about potential misconduct related to the misuse of funds at Chiles High School, Leon County School Superintendent Hanna requested an independent investigation in June.

The findings of the investigation, completed by the Coppins Monroe law firm, were detailed in a 20 page report.

The report found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the Chiles High School principal, Joe Burgess, violated any law, policy, or rule.

However, the report did find that Mr. Burgess should have known that documents that were approved for payment were inaccurate.

The investigation ultimately recommended that Mr. Burgess be disciplined in accordance with the district’s policies. Superintendent Hanna suspended Burgess, but the Chiles principal decided to appeal the decision and the matter has been forwarded to the Department of Administrative Hearings by the Leon County School Board.

As a result of the findings, Leon County Schools is in the process of conducting a district wide audit of hourly pay procedures at all schools.

The Investigation

The monies at questions are labeled Advanced Placement (AP) funds. AP funds are awarded to high schools for each student in each advanced placement course who receives a score of 3 or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination.

The policies in place require each school district to allocate at least 80 percent of the funds for advanced placement instruction. The report repeatedly noted that school officials have broad discretion how to use the funds.

Chiles High School received $449,238 in AP funds in 2020-21 and evidence shows that approximately $107,777 of this money was used to fund extra duty hourly positions unrelated to AP activities.

The investigation found:

  • There was insufficient evidence to conclude that Burgess violated any law, policy, rule, or directive regarding the use of AP project funds.
  • That for nearly all employees authorized to engage in hourly work utilizing AP project funds, [Principal] Burgess falsified District records by approving, signing, and submitting payroll documents he knew (or  should  have  known) were inaccurate.
  • There was in most cases no expectation that employees would track or submit their hourly time. Instead, the hours Burgess approved and submitted for payment resulted from mathematical calculations that merely divided a pre-determined dollar amount by the employees’ hourly rate and then divided the result again over eight to ten months.
  • The hours submitted often likely had no relation to the hours actually worked in the claimed pay period.
  • Because hours were not tracked, it is impossible at this time to confirm that even the minimum number of hours needed were actually worked.
  • Substantial concerns about Burgess’s conduct with regard to a $10,000 payment to the Chiles High School football coach, Kevin Pettis.

The report concluded that although Mr. Burgess could have properly paid employees for extra duty work, he did so in a manner that was grossly improper.

6 Responses to "Misuse of Funds Allegations at Chiles High School Results in District-Wide Audit"

  1. I’m searching for Rocky’s motives, does he have a buddy with a personal grievance over football issues or maybe one who wants to the principal at Chiles?

  2. “…should of known…”

    Really? REALLY!? It’s HAVE. Should HAVE known. This is basic English. The word ‘of’ doesn’t even make any sense there; it can’t function that way. You’d have to be a complete idiot to think this is correct.

  3. This is about Vendetta Driven Rocky! Thank you voters for giving us a vendetta driven Rocky for 8 years. We deserve better but the HAHA Hanna money won out, so now more lives can be ruined.

  4. I agree this is a Witch Hunt that needs to get reeled back in because it is going nowhere.

    Out of all the misspent funds by local elected officials past and present and some of the top administrators, etc this is a joke.

    If anyone should be suspended it should be Rocky.

    Shame on Rocky for trying to make something out of nothing please make it stop…

  5. For the superintendent to have worked in his position for so long and to not have a good quality assurance system with regular district wide audits, showcases that the district headquarters office are truly the ones at fault for these circumstances. Any previous district wide audit, that the superintendent should have conducted prior to this attack on Mr. Burgess, would have found any wrongdoing prior to this investigation. This is especially true, since Mr. Burgess is not the first principal in Leon county to manage these same funds previously used at Chiles and other schools in the county. Where are those records? If something was being done wrong, why wasn’t anything ever brought up about the way these funds were spent before this supposed issue at Chiles? It just doesn’t make sense for this nonsense, when administratively it clearly looks like the district office are truly the ones that are wrong here for not having sufficient policies and procedures to protect their principal and/or other principals currently using the same funds. To hold one person at fault, when obviously there aren’t sufficient policies and procedures in place for everyone to follow, is just wrong. The administrative hearing will most likely say the same thing and nothing will happen to the person that has been accused. Let’s move forward and stop this pettiness, our kids need Mr. Burgess back at Chiles High School now getting the current administration ready for this next school year.

  6. There’s an awful lot of “unlikely”, “would have”, “could have”, “should have, “insufficient evidence”… and apparently, bad math involved in this witch hunt.

    Perhaps if our local Public Indoctrination System and their Screwperincompetent focused more on Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic instead of reading, writing, and race bating… we might avoid such errors in the future.

    … much ado about nota… except a continued and systemic waste of tax dollars on all parts

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