Como-Pickton CISD board suspends superintendent
allegations of misuse of funds, property prompt inquiry
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 16, 2007 - Como-Pickton school board during an emergency meeting Saturday afternoon suspended the superintendent with pay, "pending investigation of alleged misuse of district funds and property."

At the conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Bryan Neal was asked to immediately hand in all district keys, laptop computers, credit cards, cell phones, PDAs and any related items.

All seven board members — President Mark Humphrey, Penny Spearman, Abbie Wright, Danny Moss, Brad Car, Gerald Walters and Beth Hankins — were present at the emergency school board meeting held Saturday afternoon in the school library.

The board called the meeting three weekdays shy of the regularly scheduled board meeting, when school trustees were to conduct their annual evaluation of the superintendent and consider his contract, as well as to "discuss the incident relative to administrator conduct at the basketball game Friday night, Jan. 5, 2007" during executive session.

The board declared "an emergency situation" after the superintendent's wife was found in the building late Friday night, but no further details regarding that incident were being released Tuesday.

That came on the heels of recent notification by law enforcement officers "of serious financial issues" which required securing district records, leading to the special called session on Saturday.

"I was notified late last night by law enforcement that the spouse of the Superintendent was in the building after midnight," Humphrey read from a prepared statement at the meeting Saturday. "The board has to take immediate emergency action to secure the building and protect financial records as directed by law enforcement."

The board met for five minutes in executive session Saturday "to discuss employment and duties of the superintendent and related services." The board voted on a motion by Wright, seconded by Carr, to suspend Neal with pay pending the results of the investigation into misuse of funds and property, according to the minutes from the emergency board meeting.

Hopkins County Sheriff's Office is investigating the allegations against the superintendent. Both the school and sheriff's investigators said no charges are anticipated against the superintendent's wife, who was found at the building during the late night hours.

Also, no one had been appointed to perform the superintendent's tasks as of Tuesday morning. The board is expected to take action on that during the regular Wednesday board meeting.

The same actions slated on the earlier agenda pertaining to the superintendent are still to be considered during the 7 p.m. Wednesday session. The agenda has been amended, however. The executive session still calls for "annual summative evaluation," discussion of conduct at the Jan. 5 basketball game, and employment and duties of the superintendent and related services, as well as superintendent goals for 2007.

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