EAST COUNTY — After more than three months of investigations into the financial practices of former Manatee County School District’s leaders, the books have closed.
The Florida Department of Education Office of the Inspector General said June 26 that allegations against former School District Superintendent Tim McGonegal and members of the district’s senior leadership team from 2010 through 2012 did not merit further investigation.
“We accept and respect the Inspector General’s decision and thank them for their work,” Manatee Schools Superintendent Rick Mills said. “Although there are still pending financial concerns unrelated to the Inspector General’s investigation, we remain focused on our primary mission of educating our students.”
The OIG interviewed 13 of the school district’s staff and board members April 30 and May 1, during its investigation.
Although Inspector General Mike Blackburn’s team analyzed financial documents, such as auditor and investigative reports, one-on-one conversations with officials played a large role in determining McGonegal’s innocence in financial matters.
The OIG determined three major claims against McGonegal: the former superintendent delayed informing the school district on the “impending deficit;” McGonegal provided false financial documents to school board members about the district’s budget shortfall; and he incurred an indebtedness against the district’s school funds in excess of the expenditure allowed by law, or in excess of funds adopted in the budget.
The individuals surveyed appeared unsure of vital information needed in the case, according to the report.
“Interviews revealed conflicting testimonies as to when the former superintendent and staff knew there was going to be a budget deficit at year-end for the 2011-2012 fiscal year,” Blackburn said in his letter to the district. “While two board members felt the information given (by McGonegal on financial statements) was not accurate, neither could point to specific reports or incidents that they felt contained intentionally false or misleading information.”
The investigation came in response to a letter Mills sent to the inspector general in March based on concerns raised by operational, financial and federal audits performed by the Florida Auditor General’s Office for the 2012-2013 school year.
“The board has instituted the additional (oversight) of a voluntary Audit Committee who reviews all reports of the Internal Audit to ensure all accounts are accurate and verified,” Mills said. “The district now has the proper internal and external controls in place to monitor, prevent and protect the district’s financial status.”
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].