U.S. Attorney investigates Jasper Co. school district - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

U.S. Attorney investigates Jasper Co. school district

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RIDGELAND, SC (WTOC) -

An independent audit of the Jasper County School District's 2013 financial reports said the district mismanaged money that was given to them for a major federal program.

Now the district is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, but it has not been confirmed or denied whether that is part of the investigation.

Members of the FBI and IRS showed up at the district's office asking for a number of documents, contracts, invoices, travel vouchers, and files for the superintendent, all assistant superintendents and department heads.

Lawyer and county council member, Tom Johnson, said the fact that the federal government is investigating leads him to believe that this all has something to do with federal money.

"As a lawyer, it seems an obvious inference that there's some sort of concern about a federal program using federal money," said Johnson.

According to an independent audit done by McGregor and Company out of Columbia, there were a number of questions in the district's 2013 financial report, one of those being the use of federal money.

The district was given a grant for improving teacher quality. The money was supposed to be used to increase the number of highly qualified teachers and principals, however the report states, "Jasper County School District failed to adhere to requirements related to proper cash management procedures." 

It goes on to say, "The reimbursement claims submitted to the state Department of Education contained over-claims of expenditures, resulting in the receipt of excess funds."

 The district's spokeswoman, Shelly Murdaugh, could not comment on the report at this time.

 The U.S. Attorney's Office said they cannot comment on the investigation of the district.

"It would have to be some federal overtone to get the federal government interested," said Johnson.

Some parents said they're hoping this investigation reveals something they've been complaining about for years, lack of care for students.

"I have seen a lot of children that they just take and send them right through the pipelines," said Joanne Fields. "And there's a lot of children whose parents don't stand up and talk for their children, and find out what's going on, because they're intimidated by the school staff. We need change."

Denise Davidson has organized a number of rallies calling for changes within the district. She said this investigation could be a step in the right direction.

"They have a long way to go, because they've been going backwards," she said.

Murdaugh said the district will comment on the investigation at a later date.

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