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Board of Education's Response to the Performance Audit Report

    Statement on behalf of members of the Belle Vernon Area Board of Education in response to a performance audit conducted by the office of Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale


     Members of the Belle Vernon Area Board of Education appreciate the work of the Auditor General’s office for conducting a performance audit of school district financial matters over four fiscal years, a period ending June 30, 2017, during which Dr. John W. Wilkinson was superintendent.

    The findings confirm that six members of the board, a majority, did not act recklessly in investigating questionable activities and fulfilling public responsibilities that ultimately led to Dr. Wilkinson’s resignation on May 7, 2018.

    While the Auditor General’s Office has cited two “major findings,” the report addresses violations of board policy, salary discrepancies, improper tuition payments and paybacks, unapproved pay raises and failure to conduct performance evaluations.

    Since the appointment of Dr. Michele Dowell as acting superintendent, and her subsequent hiring as permanent superintendent, all recommendations made in the report have been carried out or are in process of compliance.

    While agents of the Auditor General’s Office reviewed other activities brought to their attention, some beyond the scope of financial matters and their authority, they are not part of the current report.

    A majority of board members were prepared to suspend Dr. Wilkinson with pay and initiate a private investigation of allegations when he chose to resign. His resignation was accepted when it was deemed to be in the best interest of the school district to resolve the situation in this manner. (Three directors supportive of Dr. Wilkinson resigned Feb. 19, 2019, after having made allegations of a “witch hunt” after his departure.)

    Joe Grata, as board president in 2016 and 2017, acted within his responsibilities and laws that state if employees report suspicion of fraud, financial improprieties or irregularities involving the superintendent, the board president is responsible to investigate and report them to appropriate authorities, which he did in concurrence with legal counsel and five fellow board members.

    The current board has made and will continue to make overall changes and to raise accountability and oversight of finances, policy, operations and administration.

    The community and school district can be assured that we and a new administration team are committed to eliminate questionable, counterproductive past practices and lead Belle Vernon Area School District to a promising, viable future