Law enforcement agency should probe Manatee County school district

February 20, 2014 

Malfeasance is defined as the conduct by a public official that cannot be legally justified or that conflicts with the law. This is certainly an appropriate summary for the actions since 2006 when the Manatee County school district first authorized deficit spending; and through the next few years, designated funds were shifted around to cover misspending and non-budgeted spending while the public officials in charge offered falsified records to hide the mismanagement and overspending of school revenues.

Now we are being asked to ignore these crimes and have confidence in the new administration. I do trust the superintendent and I do trust that the majority of board members will act in the best interest of the district. However, confidence is restored by demonstrating accuracy, stability and responsibility.

This is a matter that will take years of verifiable and validated reports to achieve. And it is a matter that is established with public participation and active involvement.

I do also understand the desire to stop spending money on audits. The MCSD is trying to restore its financial stability and should prioritize funds to the classroom rather than unraveling more misconduct by former administrators.

So, let us demand the a criminal investigation by the BPD or MSO, centered around the financial mismanagement of this district knowing that probable charges of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance will be levied on those individuals responsible for causing and/or enabling the financial crisis at MCSD.

The statutes exist for a reason. Avoidance of these crimes simply encourages repeat offenses. We are here today with this calamity because the 2009-2010 board members avoided responsibility and allowed this behavior. Their failure to address irregularities and past audit infractions opened the door for the unethical conduct to spread.

Demand the investigation and, if warranted, file the charges. This will restore confidence.

James Ferguson


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