The Current Education Professional Standards Board Chair Has A Troubled Past… With The EPSB!

Wondering what’s wrong with the Education Professional Standards Board and why people are quitting in droves?

Part of it is because of board chair Cassandra Webb.

From the EPSB’s agreed order with Webb in November 2008:

3. By letter dated March 1, 2004, Jeff May, Superintendent of Lawrence County Schools reported Webb, the principal of Lawrence County High School, for negligent supervision of the Lawrence County High School Athletic Director when in the fall of 2003, the Lawrence County High School Athletic Fund was overspent in excess of $17,556 due to fiscal mismanagement by the Athletic Director.

4. While Webb maintains her innocence with regard to all allegations, she acknowledges that the evidence regarding the reported allegations is such that, if presented at a hearing in this matter, could result in a finding that she is in violation of KRS 161.120 and 16 KAR 1:020, the Professional Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Certified Personnel.

Here’s the agreed order:


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While Webb maintains she did nothing wrong, nothing illegal occurred, she didn’t know that mountains of cash at her small town school — for which she was responsible — was missing, overspent. Nothing. Nothing to see here, move along, puppies and rainbows.

The superintendent, auditor and EPSB all disagreed.

Let’s dig in…

On January 5, 2004 Superintendent Jeff May sent this letter to the EPSB and carbon copied the Office of Educational Accountability:


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Highlights:

On December 8, 2003 Ms. Cassandra Webb met with me, Assistant Superintendent Joe Hewlett, and the school district’s financial auditor Dan Howard. At this time Ms. Webb informed us that she had a problem with her athletic activity account. The account, according to her, was over spent in excess of twenty thousand dollars and more invoices were likely to exist. She stated that she had attempted to address the problem but because of the amount of money involved she was and would be unable to cover the existing unpaid invoices with high school funds. Furthermore, Ms. Webb explained she knew that athletic spending was a problem and addressed the purchasing issues with Mr. Joey Cecil in August 2003. It is my understanding that she believed this would take care of the purchasing procedures that had been practiced, and evidently allowed, in the past within the athletic department at the high school. These actions were inappropriate, unsound, and against board policies which have left the activity athletic fund in debt and without a means to pay invoices. Mr. Cecil disputes the amount of invoices, that his discussion with Ms. Webb was casual, not explicit on procedures, and that he was following the process as they had used in past.

Upon conclusion of this meeting I directed Ms. Webb to gather all records pertaining to this matter and to submit them to Mr. Hewlett for review. Furthermore, she was instructed to cease any athletic spending other than paying officials at sporting events. Immediately after meeting with Ms. Webb I contacted your office to report this situation and seek assistance on the proper procedures to take for resolving it. I also contacted the KDE Division of Finance for assistance and to request a representative to review the situation for us.

-SNIP-

His examination revealed that a separate purchase order book, not the official school purchase order book, was used by the athletic department and not in coordination with the official book. Furthermore, this document was not used consistently, nor completely, as invoices were found to have fictitious purchase order numbers apparently created at random.

The following invoices were included:


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On January 31, 2004 Superintendent May sent this letter to his school district’s auditor:


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And this was the audit that was produced:


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Highlights:

Compliance

CURRENT PERIOD FINDINGS

03-1.1 KRS 45A.343 to 45A.460 relating to purchases in an “aggregate amount” in excess of $20,000 must be bid out or purchased from a vendor on the approved “bid list.” Purchases were made in excess of $20,000 from vendors not on the approved “bid list.”

03-1.2 A contract to lease was entered into without the Board of Educations (sic) approval and is therefore, not valid.

Internal Control

CURRENT FINDINGS

Material weaknesses

03-1.1 There are insufficient internal controls and procedures in place to provide accurate and timely financial information for management.

03-1.2 Various purchases were made without an approved purchase order. Various purchase orders were dated after the date of the purchase invoice. Expenditures cannot be properly accounted for without properly executed purchase orders. The budget for athletics for the year was over spent by the end of this six month period.

Following the audit, May sent this to EPSB on March 1, 2004:


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Highlights:

Their Activity Account Audit, however, does list two significant findings on page nine that relates to bills without purchase order numbers and a PA headphone system being a rental and not a purchase as was originally reported.

-SNIP-

Two compliance findings are of importance. First is the determination that purchases were made in excess of $20,000 from vendors not on the approved “bid list.”

-SNIP-

The second compliance concern was pertaining to an invoice from a company called Coach Comm. The original invoice for $8,823 was changed to a rental agreement for $800 … As stated in the auditor’s findings the rental was entered into without the Board of Education’s approval and is therefore, not valid. It should also be noted that this invoice has apparently been paid and not with school district funds.

Mr. Montgomery’s audit further revealed internal control problems. It was found that there were insufficient controls and procedures in place to provide accurate and timely financial information for management. His findings are also revealed various purchases were made without approved purchase orders and that some purchase orders were dated after the date of the purchase invoice. Lastly, the budget for athletics, by the end of this six month period, had already over spent the years (sic) allocation. Upon review of the Statement of Receipts, Disbursements, and Fund Balances in his report one can see that the High School’s athletic account is currently overspent in excess of $17,556. Further study of this document indicates the school will be unable to meet this deficit without assistance.

And this on April 14, 2004:


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Finally, on August 12, 2004, EPSB stuck it to Webb:


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The (EPSB) Board at the time voted, as you can see, to launch a full investigation. That means the Board believed Webb knew about the financial shenanigans and was at least partially responsible for the mess. She essentially admitted it by signing an agreed order.

Money went missing, a single school’s athletics budget was overspent by tens of thousands of dollars, multiple audits were required and investigations took place. Yet Webb was appointed to the EPSB and somehow managed to become chair. Of course, prior to becoming chair, her attendance record for EPSB meetings was hardly commendable. Webb missed somewhere in the neighborhood of 35% of meetings prior to October 2012.

Since ascending to the throne she’s made it her apparent mission to push the entire organization into dysfunction, driving staffers to resign. She’s even rumored among some in Frankfort and Louisa to have attempted to meddle with investigations of her friends.

But the biggest move by Webb? She’s pushed non-stop, unethical efforts to prevent the EPSB staff from complying with open records law. She and her outside attorney pals have gone so far as to suggest that employees purposefully violate the law by delaying, hiding and ignoring requests from media outlets and citizens at large.

She was *this close* to being ripped to shreds by the agency and now she’s in charge.

Nothing with education in Kentucky will change until people like this are swept off high-level boards. Nothing.

The next governor has his work cut out for him.

Still wondering why Kentucky kids can’t have nice things?

NOTES

Webb was first appointed to the EPSB via Governor Steve Beshear’s executive order on January 5, 2010. Text from that EO:

By virtue of the authority bested in me by Section 161.028 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, I, Steven L. Beshear, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, do hereby appoint Cassandra A. Webb … as a member of the Education Professional Standards Board, representing vocational secondary school teachers, to replace James G. Hughley, Louisville, whose term has expired. Mrs. Webb shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term ending September 18, 2012.

Webb was re-appointed by Beshear on October 4, 2012:

Cassandra A. Webb … representing secondary school teachers, to serve for a term expiring September 18, 2016

She’s not currently a teacher and wasn’t a teacher when she was originally appointed. She’s been the “Chief Academic Officer” since 2007. She’s been an administrator the entire time she’s been on the board… but is officially referred to, by both the board and Steve Beshear’s office, as a teacher. An administrator representing teachers. You know how that works out.