A couple weeks ago we discovered that Phil Rison and others within Montgomery County Schools were claiming athletics boosters spent several hundred thousand dollars on facilities. Rison, reporting to the Kentucky High School Athletics Association, claimed that boosters had spent more than $342,000 during the 2014-2015 school year.
That came on the heels of the discovery that Rison, under the supervision of former superintendent Joshua Powell, spent more than $176,000 on baseball field renovations without approval, without required bids and without proper reporting to authorities.
We dug our heels in with the school district by requesting copies of all invoices, bills of sale, contracts with vendors, purchase orders, checks, accounting ledgers and books for athletics booster programs for the school years of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 for all sports, boys and girls. District officials responded to our request late last week by providing 151 pages of data.
Contrary to booster spending numbers reported to KHSAA and Title IX officials, the district’s records do not appear to provide any sort of validation. It appears boosters spent nothing or almost nothing on facilities (depending upon how you choose to classify a $400 shot clock) for either of the two school years.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to provide booster facilities spending breakdowns for you as we’d planned because there weren’t $342,000 spent by boosters on facilities.
Feel free to go through the documents for yourself:
FILE 1 —CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF — 80 PAGES, 12.2MB
FILE 2 — CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF — 71 PAGES, 9.9MB
There were several thousand dollars spent on uniforms and basic equipment. Nothing we could find — and nothing school board members could find — indicate that several hundred thousand dollars were spent on facilities.
Current and former employees of the district, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation (which we’ve repeatedly proved is a justified fear in Montgomery County), tell us these numbers lead back to Office of Civil Rights Title IX investigations launched a couple years ago. Essentially, the district was investigated because females weren’t permitted to use workout facilities that were readily accessible by male football and basketball players. The scandal got out-of-control and ultimately included local newspaper spin, whistleblower retaliation, terminations, failure to comply, retirement extortion and lawsuits.
- A Look At Montgomery County’s Title IX Complaint [January 14, 2014]
- Montgomery County Title IX Wormhole Gets Bigger [January 15, 2015]
- Montgomery Co. Settled Its Title IX Investigation [January 27, 2014]
- School District & Paper Team Up For Deception [February 27, 2014]
- Sources Confirm Additional Powell Investigations [June 3, 2014]
- Flashback To Montgomery Co. Title IX Investigation [June 9, 2014]
- Scheme Unravels: Joshua Powell Gets Sued [July 31, 2014]
- Montgomery Co. Title IX Mess Springs Back To Life [August 4, 2014]
- More Title IX Problems Surface For MoCo/Powell [August 5, 2014]
- MoCo Paper’s Coverage Bad For Joshua Powell [August 8, 2014]
- Montgomery Co. Still In A Title IX Hot Mess [August 22, 2014]
- Montgomery Co. Title IX Scandal Worsens Again [September 16, 2014]
- Montgomery Co. Still Not In Title IX Compliance [December 22, 2014]
Those current and former employees tell us Rison claimed the reported numbers reflect spending to upgrade the weight room to satisfy the Title IX complaints against the district. Rison allegedly took the total amount spent by the school district (not boosters) and divided it up among individual sports. (Note: Rison told school board members that the district itself also paid for weight room renovations – $1,500 per sport.)
But those upgrades weren’t paid for by boosters — unless some anonymous donor wrote a massive check that no one in the district knows about. And based on our review of monthly financial reports to the school board for the past two years, there doesn’t appear to be any bidding for a project that would have been legally required to be put up for bid. Nothing in the more than 5,400 pages of monthly school board packets indicates funds of this caliber were spent on weight room facilities.
We located $80 spent here and there to Bowlarama Lanes for bowling team practice and $4,805 to EliteFTS.com for some equipment — paid for by the school district, not boosters — but that’s it. Not $342,000.
No one has answers for us. Not central office, not the school board. Rison hasn’t responded to requests for comment. Individuals responsible for booster programs tell us they have no idea where those figures come from. Coaches are at a loss for words. Parents have no explanation.
At this point we’re left to speculate. Since we’re speculating: these aren’t the only numbers to have been fudged in Montgomery County and it’s beyond time to hire a forensic accountant to review the past several years of bank records and reports.