STATEMENT REGARDING INVESTIGATORY FINDINGS RELATED TO ALCOVY HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
At the request of several members of the Newton County Board of Education, I am reporting to the public-at-large that I have completed an investigation regarding allegations related to the purchase and/or consumption of alcohol on a student trip as well as missing funds from the school's band account.
As reported in the Board's Executive Session of June 5, 2012, I interviewed a number of parties (six in total) over the last several weeks who stated they were present on the student trip in question while at a particular restaurant in Florida during the spring of 2010. All but one, and all claimed to be present, confirmed that Principal Carpenter neither purchased nor consumed alcohol while at this restaurant which was/is the site of the alleged event. In short, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence does not call for any disciplinary action to be handed out. (Note: All Board members and Attorney Kent Campbell were present in this particular Executive Session held on June 5, 2012.)
As for missing band funds (cash), clearly school officials should have kept better records in this particular account. That said, there is no evidence to suggest that any particular individual deliberately misused or misappropriated funds.
- Gary Mathews
Update, 2:34 p.m., June 22: Superintendent Gary Mathews gave further details Friday of his investigation into accusations that Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter purchased alcohol on a 2010 band trip, and that there were funds missing from the band's account.
Mathews said in a written statement Thursday that he interviewed six people, and that five of the six confirmed that Carpenter neither purchased nor consumed alcohol while at this restaurant that was the site of the alleged event.
"In short, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence does not call for any disciplinary action to be handed out," Mathews said.
"As for missing band funds (cash), clearly school officials should have kept better records in this particular account. That said, there is no evidence to suggest that any particular individual deliberately misused or misappropriated funds."
When asked follow-up questions, Mathews provided more details of his investigation Friday.
Mathews was not employed locally in the spring of 2010, but he said he created a list of eight people who were related to the alcohol allegations by talking to Carpenter, board member Jeff Meadors and from an anonymous tip from an unknown person.
"Five of the six were very clear that they were present at the restaurant in Florida [the scene of the alleged incident] and that Principal Carpenter did not purchase or consume alcohol during this event. Of the two individuals that I did not interview, one is a spouse of a person I did interview and the other is a party that I simply have not been able to reach," Mathews said in an email. "As always, if someone else was present, and desires to inform me of their experience in this matter, they are certainly invited to do so as I invited persons to do so in my letter that was published earlier in both the Newton Citizen and The Covington News."
Regarding the case of the alleged missing funds, allegations of which were made by anonymous bloggers on The Citizen's website, Mathews said the case was a "he said, she said."
"And, to be specific, the "alleged" missing $3,000 or so dollars was a cash transaction by which a school organization sponsor claims he handed monies and a deposit slip over to the then-bookkeeper who testifies that she received monies throughout that [2009-10] school year from said sponsor and that when approached by the sponsor regarding the funds she could not account for the funds because she indicated there was no paper trail associated with the funds. According to the then-bookkeeper, the only method of reconciliation was to look at the deposits noted in the accounting books. In doing so, the bookkeeper could not confirm that the school organization sponsor ever gave her the monies he was claiming," Mathews said in an email.
"But, in terms of this allegation, Principal Carpenter was not involved other than informing me-when Deputy Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and I interviewed her -that she could not confirm either the school organization sponsor's version or the then-bookkeeper's version of what occurred."