Turtleboy Investigates

Freedom Of Information Act From SEBRSD: $31,199.52 Was Spent On Lawyer’s To Investigate Nothing

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A few weeks back we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Spencer-East Brookfield school district to find out how much money they spent on lawyer’s fees to investigate the alleged $7,000 in missing money from the school activity account. Because if they spent more than $7,000 to investigate $7,000 of missing money, well, that would just be dumb. The law gives them 10 days to get back to us, but they didn’t do that, because rules and laws don’t apply to those who run the SEBRSD. We had essentially given up until we finally received correspondance from the district on Saturday. Let’s look at the bill they sent us from the Law Office of Robert J. Hennigan Jr.:

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As you can see it’s dated 7/9/15, and the bill was 3,182.50. Between that date and August 3, the district ran up another $9,245 on the taxpayer’s tab:

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Which, as you can see, brought the bill up $12,427.50.

Between August 3 and September 2, the district was charged another $5,798.48, which included printing fees on top of lawyer’s fees.

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This brings the total bill for two months worth of legal work to $18,225.98, to investigate an alleged $7,000 that was missing.

Then according to the bill dated October 1, the school paid another $5,297.50 for “professional courtesy,” and were charged another $7,130 in legal fees, and $546.04 in printing fees:

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So this brought the bill to $31,199.52.

There’s been no more billing because the investigation is complete. No money was ever missing. The district treasurer screwed up according to Mr. Hennigan:

“While in some cases an argument could be made that there is “some tangential connection” between the expenditures and benefits to students, he said, it seems the School Department did not follow the letter of the law nor an established district policy that has been in place since October 2013.”

“Mr. Hennigan questioned why some items weren’t funded in the school budget. Water for the nurse office, a new shot put and measuring tape for the track team and the costs of band camp and a marching band drill design program shouldn’t have come from the student activity fees, he said.”

Basically what happened here is that the school district is broke because of piss poor management, so the Athletic Director and music teacher took it upon themselves to raise money and put it into this account. Then the district would write them checks to pay for things like shot puts, and band camps – stuff that directly benefits the kids and is supposed to be provided for them in the first place.

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But because the two people who put in requests for money the most (AD Chuck Fahey, and arts director Becky Busierre) were not liked by School Committee Chairman Kevin Hayes, it prompted the district to spend $31,199.52 in legal fees to try to prove that they were stealing money. In the meantime the district will not let them carry on as AD, student council advisor, show choir director, or the handful of other groups these two were in charge of. And the kids continue to go without because Kevin Hayes and Tracy Crowe have to win this pissing match. They did however let them keep teaching, which is weird, because if I thought two of my employees were stealing taxpayer money, I certainly wouldn’t let them keep teaching. If they’re not trusted to be show choir director, then why are they trusted to be teachers?

So once again, the investigation has reached it’s conclusion and the district is no longer being billed. Both Busierre and Fahey were exonerated. Yet their positions still remain unfilled. Why? Simple – the district is purposely not releasing these findings until they find a scab who will take their jobs. Then they’ll release the report, vindicate both teachers, and try to pretend like none of this ever happened. But they won’t get their jobs or reputation back.

Hayes and Crowe knew the whole time there was nothing there. This was all just a ruse by Kevin Hayes to get back at the AD because he didn’t hire his wife to coach field hockey. The interim AD coincidentally appointed Hayes’ wife to be the field hockey coach, which was the reason the district wasted $31,199.52 on nothing. Because they have plenty of money to spare when this is what their high school likes like:

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The ball’s in the court of the taxpayers. You have a right to a recall election. You’d be crazy not to use it. Kevin Hayes and Tracy Crowe are stealing your money, screwing over your kids, and blaming the union boogie man. We’ve proven it and it’s undeniable.

 

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9 Comment(s)
  • Del Griffith
    December 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    As far as the AG’s office goes, unfortunately they have a minimum threshold and would more than likely not accept this one due to the minimal cost reported as missing. However, the local PD through the District Attorney could investigate unless there is some sort of conflict of interest. If that is the case, then the State Police or a special prosecutor could have also been used instead of spending huge $ at the taxpayers expense. Unless of course the district has an “in” at the attorney’s office.

  • Hold up
    December 7, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    It’s the job of the district’s independent auditor to audit student accounts (which is a state mandate). Misappropriation and misuse of student activities accounts is illegal and a very serious matter, regardless if money was stolen or not. The use of funding as described here was indeed misappropriation, however it should be noted that funds cannot have been used without school committee warrant approval (so the buck stops with them, and they have already demonstrated their gross incompetence with fiscal management of taxpayer money).

    The district erred in hiring costly counsel, when an auditor would have yielded a far more credible document with findings and recommendations.

    Also note the description of services rendered does not meet redaction criteria (unless a student’s name is noted, then the name would simply be redacted). As such, the district has not yet appropriately responded to your request. A call to the secretary of state’s office is in order.

    Public Records: 617-727-2832
    Fax: 617-727-5914
    Email: [email protected]
    Commissions: 617-727-2836
    Fax: 617-727-5914
    Email: [email protected]

  • Reddog
    December 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Unfucking believable! I feel even better for not voting for the override last year. Kevin Hayes sucks

  • Larry
    December 7, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Why didn’t they get the Mass AG office to investate? The school is a “state run institution”. Maybe you should ask thr AG office if they were consulted, etc.

  • Jana
    December 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    From an accounting standpoint, the district was only (ha, “only”) charged $25,902.02: $3,182.50 from 7/9/15; $9,245.00 from 8/3/15; $5,798.48 from 9/2/15; and $7,676.04 from 10/1/15.

    They effectively “only” paid $20,604.52 – the $5,297.50 “professional courtesy” line item is a credit, not a charge (I’m assuming it’s a discount offered by the lawyer’s office, otherwise they would just list it as a payment as on the other invoices).

    $20k is still a LOT of money to put into investigating $7k.

  • Lanels
    December 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    The “professional courtesy” looks like a discount credit on the invoice pictured rather than a payment. Still interesting. Wonder if there was any sort of competitive process to select the law firm.

  • juror seven
    December 7, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Any one know what kind of season the Field Hockey team had? Won loss record?

    • Joe
      December 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      Zero wins.

      • wabbitt
        December 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

        I shouldn’t laugh. But that takes gallows humor to a new level.

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