In February, the Board directed State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine to conduct a full investigation of financial policies, procedures and practices at RESA I. The investigation came after allegations that a RESA employee embezzled funds and other fraudulent activity that occurred at RESA I.
The investigation found that the fraudulent activity occurred as a result of a series of weaknesses in the financial structure at RESA I. As a result, the WVDE has made the following recommendations to strengthen the structure not only for RESA I but statewide.
• Retain the Raleigh County Treasurer as the financial officer for RESA I.
• Conduct an on-sight review and evaluation of the current accounting practices, policies and procedures of all eight RESAs.
• Develop specific guidance for the financial operation of the RESAs, including but not restricted to, accounting and budgetary controls, functions and operations; financial reporting; purchasing; and grants.
• Conduct workshops regarding fiduciary responsibilities and provide targeted, RESA specific, technical assistance for RESA directors, chief financial officers and secretaries and fiscal agents.
• Collaborate with State Auditor’s office and other appropriate agencies in developing a state compliance supplement for auditors to use in performing the audits of county boards of education, RESAs; multi-county vocational centers; the Office of Education Performance Audits; and the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind.
• Complete, as soon as possible, the State Superintendent’s study of RESAs as required by Senate Bill 127.
• Determine the feasibility, as well as potential improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of operations, of performing all accounting functions for all eight RESAs at the WVDE.
• Recommend to LOCEA and the West Virginia Board of Education changes in West Virginia Code.
• Revise Policy 3233 according to the RESA study recommendations approved by the West Virginia Board of Education and West Virginia Code changes.
All eight Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA) fall under the auspices of the West Virginia Board of Education. RESAs serve as an intermediate educational service provider to local school systems. RESA I is located in Beckley, West Virginia.
In a 5 – 3 vote, the Board also suspended RESA I Executive Director Carol Morgan for 90 days. The Board expects to meet with Morgan during its April Board meeting to further discuss a suspension. A search for an interim director for RESA I has also been initiated.