- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - Greenwood school officials are withholding comment until they can study a preliminary audit report from the Mississippi Department of Education that suggests the system is in violation of some state policies and standards.

The audit was conducted during several visits to the district between April 30 and May 22.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports (http://bit.ly/1eLP7hs ) the audit was delivered to the district Wednesday and it obtained a copy Thursday.

Among the issues raised in the preliminary report are numerous problems with the minutes of Greenwood School Board meetings, misreporting district information to state officials and problems with the district’s financial management.

Education Department auditors allege the district’s employee pay scale was inconsistently applied, with supplements and salaries for some employees not matching those set by the school board.

“The majority of contracts were revised to increase salary for personnel,” according to the report. “There was no indication in the contract of the reason for the increase or any indication that the board had approved the increase.”

The report criticizes the school board for approving the hiring of the wives of Greenwood Superintendent Montrell Greene and Deputy Superintendent Chester Leigh. The moves, both approved by the school board during the past school year, have been “detrimental to the relationship between the administration and all educational stakeholders and the community of Greenwood.”

The report also points to a 2010 Mississippi Ethics Commission opinion that a superintendent’s spouse cannot be employed in a district’s central office to avoid “the appearance of impropriety.”

Robie Greene, the superintendent’s wife, works as a district instructional coach - an apparent violation of that opinion.

The district now has until July 24 to respond to findings within the preliminary report.

The district avoided a possible state takeover last July after the state Commission on School Accreditation voted against declaring a state of emergency, instead allowing the district time to correct the violations and ordering this year’s full audit of the district to ensure compliance.

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Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com

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