RALEIGH — According to a recent publication by the North Carolina State Auditor’s Office, a former Nash County superintendent racked up $45,690 in unallowed and questionable expenses.
The former superintendent in question is Dr. Shelton Jefferies.
The audit states that the “Superintendent fostered an environment in which such violations are acceptable,” and that the violations went undetected “because of a lack of review and oversight by the former chairs of the School System’s Board of Education (Board) and the former Chief Finance Officer (CFO).”
The violations took place between Jan. 4, 2016, and Aug. 2, 2019, according to the audit. The report detailed $22,045 of funds improperly used in his procurement card, $19,362 in funds due to violations of the school system’s travel policy, $3,015 from using the school system’s vehicle for personal use, and $1,268 of fuel purchases and rental vehicles despite receiving a travel allowance.
North State Journal obtained Jefferies contract, which included compensation totaling $172,500. State funds accounted for $131,688 and local funds accounted for $40,812. Additionally, the Nash County Board of Education paid annual membership fees up to $2,000 a year for Jefferies.
Jefferies contract also included a monthly travel allowance of $600 and a relocation allowance of $1,000 per month for up to 12 months.
The contract specifically requires the superintendent to file “itemized expense statements” in order to qualify for reimbursement. Those statements were to be submitted to the district’s finance officer.
According to Nash County Public Schools executive director of communications Chris Catalano, the Nash County School Board did not approve any bonuses for Jefferies during the time he was employed. Catalano also told North State Journal in an email that Jefferies’ end date was Aug. 2, 2019.
Nash County Public Schools’ response letter was included in the audit documentation. That letter, written by the law firm of Tharrington Smith, states the school board began an investigation into Jefferies expenses in spring of 2019, after receiving a report about inappropriate use of the procurement card and district vehicles. The response letter indicates that Jefferies resigned on Aug. 2, 2019, after multiple attempts to communicate with Jefferies and his chief of staff.
The district indicated in their response that after an interim superintendent was installed, they worked to make changes to policies governing the procurement cards. Additionally, the board’s letter states they are seeking reimbursement from Jefferies and that the board will seek legal action if repayment is not made within 60 days.