Audit: Granville school leaders received pay raises without full board approval
Posted May 16
Updated June 3
"Most board members expressed that they were surprised to learn the details" of the contracts, according to Jill Wilson, an attorney with Brooks Pierce in Greensboro, who was hired by the school board to do the audit.
In several instances, the contracts noted that the board "voted unanimously" to approve pay hikes and other changes, but the auditor found that there was "absolutely no evidence" in the board's meeting minutes or from board members' recollections that the votes ever occurred.
"The board chair believed he and counsel for the board were authorized to not only engage in negotiations with senior staff, but to enter into contracts on behalf of the board of education without any formal action of the board whatsoever," Wilson wrote.
Wilson found that Superintendent Tim Farley "is the second highest paid superintendent in the state with less than 25,000 students." She also found that Associate Superintendent Allan Jordan received a "'cost of living allowance' and a large raise that was applied retroactively even though the fiscal year was over."
From 2007 until now, Jordan's total compensation "changed from just over $92,000 to almost $172,000, which was applied retroactively beginning Jan. 1, 2012, through the present, with only $1,800 of that increase actually resulting from board action," Wilson wrote.
School board members met in closed session for nearly three hours Friday evening to discuss the audit and craft a public statement. Reporters and members of the public waited outside the board room and could hear yelling and raised voices coming from the meeting room several times.
When the public was allowed back inside, the board's new interim attorney, Nick Sojka, read a prepared statement and said the board's current attorney, Jim Cross, who helped handle the contracts, is no longer welcome at board meetings.
"The board anticipates additional meetings and actions on an expedited basis in order to address matters identified in the report released tonight," Sojka said, declining to give more details about what those actions could be.
Cross, who recently announced that he plans to retire as the school board's attorney, told WRAL News this week that he knew "very little" about the audit. He was not present at Friday's meeting. When asked how he and the board handled contracts, Cross declined to comment and referred all questions to Sojka.
Sojka said the board plans to follow the recommendations made in the audit, including that board members vote on all contract changes. He declined to say whether any personnel or salary changes would be made as a result of the audit.
The superintendent was at Friday's meeting but did not speak publicly about the audit. The associate superintendent was not in attendance, but his attorney talked with WRAL News earlier this week.
"I don’t believe that my client is aware about the information contained in (the audit)," said attorney Ellis Boyle, who represents Jordan. "I don’t think he thinks there was anything inappropriate (in the contracts), at least by him. I don’t think he's concerned that it would reflect negatively on him."