Questionable Payments Prompt Investigation At Nash County High School
Posted August 9, 2005 10:40 a.m. EDT
NASHVILLE, N.C. — Questionable payments at a Nash County high school that involve checks written to people who never worked at the school's athletic events have prompted an investigation.
Northern Nash High School apparently had a system for paying school employees for extra hours that Superintendent George Norris did not know about or approve.
After a tip from WRAL, Norris said he found checks made out to family members of the actual worker, instead of the worker themselves.
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"There's an appearance of impropriety," said school board member the Rev. Robert Bynum. "I'm hoping it's an isolated incident."
The records WRAL requested show 19 individuals were paid, but did not actually work. One person was the athletic director's daughter, Betsy Brett. The rate was typically $35 per event.
Because these payments were intended for school system employees, the checks should have gone through the school system's central office where taxes, Social Security and retirement are deducted. In at least one case, Norris said overtime rates should have applied.
The case has been turned over to Nash County Sheriff Jimmy Grimes for investigation.
"We'll meet with the school system finance officer and see what it is and see if there's anything improper and who's at fault," Grimes said.
Norris said the athletic director authorized the payments and that the principal and bookkeeper signed the checks. He also told WRAL that he thinks the problem is limited to athletic events at Northern Nash.
WRAL was unable to reach the school's athletic director. The superintendent could not say if he thought there was an organized effort to deceive, but did say that he thought the payment method only existed last year and also that he found $4,680 in inappropriate payments.