MPS officials respond amid financial woes

MPS officials respond amid financial woes

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s been one hit after another for MPS. A bookkeeper admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from Goodwyn – the same for a Carver JROTC instructor; both pleaded guilty to felony counts. Then there’s the state audit which showed more money missing from Goodwyn – all adding up to around $20,000.

“We support anything in the action that needs to be taken when there have been wrongdoings in our school system, and in many cases, we already have investigated and looked into any kind of allegations that might be occurring prior to legal authorities stepping in and doing what they do because we as a school system have to make sure that we do everything above board. So we don’t support anything that is abnormal or incorrect or illegal,” said MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore.

“That information was reported to the auditors as soon as it was found,” said MPS Chief Financial Officer Arthur Watts. “We knew within a month’s time, ‘Hey, these dollars are missing because something’s not balancing here.’”

Watts found some of that missing money. He’s implemented rigorous checks and balances to keep it from happening again.

"This training will be continuous. We will continue to work with both our principals and bookkeepers. We will visit schools we'll review items so this will be a continuous situation," Watts said.

He said he hopes taxpayers know that MPS takes these situations very seriously.

"We do hope the public realizes that when government public schools receive our tax dollars, they're going to ensure that these dollars are being used correctly, and if there are individuals who choose not to use those dollars for its intended purposes, they will be dealt with. It won't be swept under the rug. So we hope the public understands that we are, you know, in every effort trying to ensure that the dollars are spent properly," said Watts.

MPS is woefully underfunded. While thousands won’t fix their problems, the superintendent says the buck stops with her.

“Even if I had the 17,000 [dollars], I’m not taking that lightly. But that’s not going to fix an air conditioning unit that’s going to cause $7 or $8 million to replace in the school. If we compare what we need to what was taken, it’s kind of like a drop in the bucket. But you shouldn’t be doing it,” said Moore.

This may not be the end of it. Moore confirms all schools are under review.

“We may have seen some red flags but we aren’t at liberty to discuss them right now,” Moore said.

"There are other situations that have not come out yet and of course they will be coming out at some point," Watts said.

We don’t know when these reviews will be complete – or if additional arrests are expected. Moore says any financial misappropriation they uncover will be reported to the board.

Thursday WSFA 12 News confirmed Michael Walker, the JRTOC instructor who pleaded guilty to theft, is still on the payroll, but on administrative leave.

"There's a state process in dealing with employees, even in disciplinary issues such as this, and we just have to ensure that we follow those state those state processes," Watts said.

“If I put you on administrative leave and I find out that there you have now either pleaded or you have been proven guilty of something, then the next step is you are not here anymore,” said Moore. “In many cases people retire resigned or we move to terminate.”

The state department confirms Walker’s teaching certificate is under review.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.