School officials say former Liberty County Chief Financial Officer Roger Reese gave himself a raise without approval.
Reese, who has threatened to sue the school board and outgoing Liberty County School System superintendent Dr. Valya Lee, made $141,168 before he was suspended without pay earlier this year.
He is set to have a tribunal hearing regarding his former employment at LCSS at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Liberty County Board of Education office.
According to a letter from LCSS attorney Phillip Hartley to Reese’s attorney Matthew Billips, obtained through an open records request, Reese “increased his own compensation without board approval and in violation of a directive from the superintendent for the current year by moving himself up seven steps on the pay scale without authorization from the board.”
Reese has claimed he was underpaid based on his experience. He also claims the BoE and Lee violated policy regarding requests for proposals for banking services.
But the letter from Hartley to Billips cites Reese’s incompetency, insubordination, intentional neglect of duty and “other good and sufficient cause” as reasons Lee took steps to have him fired.
According to Hartley, Reese’s neglect financially hurt the school system, and claims he provided inaccurate information required by the BoE to set its millage rate. The confusion resulted in an unnecessary board meeting and a delay in certifying the millage rate, the letter said.
There’s a lot more.
“These concerns specifically included failing to follow through on numerous personnel issues involving insuring that the appropriate salary or supplements was being paid to employees, verifying proper certification and credentialing of employees, and in one case, autho
rizing the hiring of a custodian without proper authority. The failure to verify the appropriate salary to be paid to employees continued even after the Superintendent convened a meeting to discuss and develop a process to be followed so that such incidents would not continue to happen,” Hartley wrote.
As Lee began following up on the complaints, Hartley said, she found more than a dozen instances where Reese allegedly failed in doing his job to benefit the schools in regards to grant resources, and failed to stay on top of bank statement reconciliations and reporting and setting up appropriate programming funds.
The letter also alleges Reese failed to properly account for spending.
Hartley said it was Reese who didn’t follow procedures in the request for proposals for banking services.
“There were substantial delays in Mr. Reese’s moving forward with this assignment and he failed to properly reach out to a number of financial institutions within the area,” Hartley wrote, adding Reese also provided inconsistent information to the Superintendent with regard to his own recommendation and evaluation.”
Documents show Lee then asked Jason Rogers to conduct a limited financial review of the LCSS. Rogers found that the school district had not reconciled bank statements for the general operating account for any month in fiscal year 2017. He also said federal grants had not been used in a timely manner resulting in a loss of resources, or a delay in the ability to access those resources.
The letter said Rogers’ review showed Reese failed to provide monthly financial reports to the BoE and that the last report regarding the status of the school system’s fund balance was in June or July of 2015.
In his Jan. 18 letter to Lee, Billips called Rogers’ report, “a bogus internal audit,” adding that Rogers was only placed into the internal audit position after the banking services policy violations were brought to light.
Billips called the audit by Rogers, “inaccurate and inconsequential.”
Lee in turn requested the review of an outside auditor, which was completed by Jacqueline Mells, a CPA from Brunswick.
Mells’ report, dated Feb. 10, confirmed discrepancies cited by Hartley in his letter.
Hartley also claims Reese was insubordinate in other matters.
“Mr. Reese advised John Lyles, Director of Transportation, not to take certain driver training positions to the board for approval for fear that the board would not approve them, but to go ahead and authorize the performance of duties and payment to these individuals without authority.”
Hartley alleged Reese paid the individuals without Lee’s or the BoE’s approval.