CHARLOTTE, MI (WLNS) – Allegations of incorrect budget approvals and unbalanced revenue and expense accounts has raised the eyebrows of the Eaton RESA School Board of Education.
At their special meeting tonight, board members have taken action to resolve the problem.
The purpose of the meeting was to tackle financial concerns that Trustee Sara Clark Pierson had after reading over an audit that was conducted in November of 2014, all under the leadership of Superintendent Christine Beardsley.
At Thursday’s meeting, two things happened: first, Beardsley was put on non-disciplinary paid leave, effective immediately, and second: an interim superintendent was appointed in her place while an outside source investigates the situation.
“I didn’t see it coming, I mean this is really kind of happened fairly rapidly,” Board President, Jim Lehman said.
“When an allegation is made that is serious.. A board has a duty to investigate them,” Trustee Sara Clark Pierson aid.
Trustee Sara Clark Pierson has been on the Eaton RESA Board of Education for just one month and because she’s an attorney and CPA, she looked over the board’s audit which raised some red flags.
“I noticed that we had an unusual number of budget adjustments and they are not because of dramatic changes in economic conditions..they were to correct errors,” she said.
Just to put things into perspective, Pierson found that The Career Training budget went from being a projected surplus of $80,000, to a deficit of about $460,000.
“Within a two-month period you go from a surplus, to a 10 percent deficit,” Pierson said. “Those are dramatic swings that in this point of year you couldn’t possibly correct.”
“Some of the problems that were described in that are problems we recognize are there and we’re working with the RESA out of Detroit that developed it,” Board President, Lehman said.
“I actually looked at Ingham’s, and Clinton’s and Gratiot’s and a couple others just to see what there audits looked like to compare them,” Pierson said. “And they looked nothing like this.”
But that’s not all, those in attendance also expressed concern over the way they’ve been treated by Superintendent Beardsley, and according to a former employee of the Eaton Intermediate School District, it goes beyond finances.
“When Superintendent Beardsley came and became superintendent I had a number of friends who I worked with who were beginning to have their jobs threatened,” Jean Weirich said.
However, Board President – Jim Lehman, says otherwise.
“I’m the president of the board and I’ve never heard anyone tell me that they’re in fear of their job,” he said.
But, back in March of 2012, the Executive Assistant of the Superintendent sent a letter to the Eaton ISD staff saying “Now we’re hearing valid concerns from our local districts about how we operate and the services we offer…..”
The letter also states “The annual audit created enough concern from board members that it was important to have an independent review of our processes to ensure we address things internally.”
“I’m very glad this is being explored because I think there are real major concerns as to what she’s done to this school district,” Weirich said.
The board president says he expects the investigation into these allegations to start sometime next week.
Be sure to stay with 6 News for the very latest on this case.