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Johnston County school board members push back on leaked audio, claims of hiding

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— Leaked audio appears to have some Johnston County Board of Education members talking about hiding millions of dollars from county commissioners.

During a meeting on Tuesday night, school board members spoke out against the claims, saying the comments were taken out of context. Board members claimed one of their own recorded the audio during a closed session in March, and that the action violates several ethics.

$177M bond referendum approved to support staffing, infrastructure needs

School board members said they’re now having to clean up the damage made online.

A 43-second clip gives the impression of unethical decision making over the allocation of COVID-19 relief money inside Johnston County Public Schools.

“Take $8 million out of ESSER and put it into local, and that would keep the fund balance, I believe, at about $23 million,” JCPS Chief Financial Officer Stephen Britt says on the audio.

“Hide your money,” board member Kay Carroll replies.

On Tuesday night, JCPS went on the record about what was said during the meeting in March.

“To give you context, you got a 43 second snippet of how many hours of conversation that we’re having around budgets and around capital,” said Britt.

school lunch generic

Board members say they were discussing a proposal for a bond referendum to be presented to County Commissioners in the leaked audio.

“We understood because we had an excess of local funding because of vacancies,” said school board member Lyn Andrews. “We understood County Commissioners would possibly ask for the money back.”

“We wanted to take the money and utilize it and enhance our schools.”

School leaders were tasked with addressing overcrowding and updating facilities as the county experiences rapid growth. They said transferring the money to specific bank accounts allows them to address those needs.

During public comment, Johnston County residents expressed frustration and called for censure or removal of the board member accused of leaking the audio. Board members shared similar sentiments.

Ronald Johnson, Smithfield police detective

“I consider these statements malicious, defamation — both libel and slander,” said Andrews.

“We are drawing a line in the sand,” said board member Todd Sutton. “We’re not going to allow this to happen anymore to our Johnston county Public School employees.”

Read More: Johnston County school board members push back on leaked audio, claims of hiding

2022-08-10 03:16:00

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