March 29, 2012

Not So Fast: Now The City Council Will Consider Whether To Request An Investigation

Monique Chartier

Last night, despite what appeared to be considerable grounds to do so, the Woonsocket School Committee voted three to two against bringing in the State Police to investigate such matters as apparently falsified school budget surpluses and a vanishing termination clause.

Under my post reporting this irresponsible development, City Council President John Ward this morning advises that

The Woonsocket City Council will be considering a resolution to initiate an investigation into the financial and contractual issues of the Woonsocket School Committee. The city charter grants specific authority to conduct the investigation.

Upon my e-mailing him, Council President Ward clarified

Actually, the council will be taking sworn testimony from witnesses in order to determine if further action is needed, such as referral to the state police or other group. We are not asking for a state police or any other outside investigation at this point. The resolution will be on our agenda for Monday, April 2, 2012.

Good. And it makes sense that the Council has the authority to do so as it is the body which, by state law, has the authority to levy taxes and to set the amount of the school budget - a legal state of affairs which school committees and superintendents around the state have too often disregarded.

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Calling the State Police without any evidence of criminal activity would amount to getting a free audit for the city if they didn't turn up anything criminal. They should hire an auditor and let them determine if their is anything there that reaches the criminal level. If they do, then they should call the State Police.

Posted by: Max D` at March 29, 2012 10:13 AM

Max D, they did a full audit. That's how it was determined the $69,000 surplus was really a $2.7 million deficit (and $10 million for two years).

Additionally, the deficit, bad as it is, is not the reason that an investigation is needed. In fact, false reports were both ordered and issued for months, reports which failed to include substantial expenditures, so which essentially covered up the deficit.

These are not the only items that warrant an investigation; check out my other posts and the excellent reporting by both the Woonsocket Call and the Valley Breeze for additional items.

Posted by: Monique at March 29, 2012 10:45 AM

Help me out Monique. Maybe I missed it but do they suspect criminality or they just don't know?

Posted by: Max D at March 29, 2012 4:28 PM

Ya got me there, Max D. Laws have been cited (that might have been broken) but I don't know if they fall in the criminal or the civil section of the code.

Posted by: Monique at March 29, 2012 8:47 PM

Considering who the sitting council members are, and their past record I would not expect them to put too much effort into an honest investigation. I'm sure they will be extremely selective in choosing the witnesses they want to interview.

Posted by: Ron at March 31, 2012 6:57 AM
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