Camden school board to meet over criminal investigation involving superintendent
Citing concerns over a state Attorney General's Office criminal investigation and unapproved bonuses, Camden School Board President Philip Freeman said the board will discuss at a special session Wednesday whether Annette Knox's 5“ years as superintendent should come to a close.
The state Attorney General's Office has served a subpoena to the Camden school district, district business administrator John Amato said.
The subpoena is for records regarding performance bonuses and other matters, said Amato. He said he received the subpoena Wednesday and is scheduled to testify before a grand jury on July 5.
Records pertaining to other expenses also were requested, as well as information from Knox's personnel file, e-mails, payroll records, attendance records and contracts, Freeman said. Records also pertained to contracts with vendors, as well as various disciplinary actions taken by Knox, he said.
Knox did not appear at a Thursday board meeting on the advice of her attorney, Freeman said. He did not know whether she will appear next week, but the board will make decisions regardless on whether she earned $17,690 in performance bonuses.
The board may consider removal through tenure charges or a negotiated buyout of Knox's contract, Freeman said.
It may also choose to retain her and, if discipline is necessary, options include reprimanding her and seeking reimbursement of the bonuses.
"In light of the criminal investigation and circumstances receiving the bonuses, we'll discuss whether she should remain as superintendent," Freeman said.
The board has the right to buy out her contract or to file tenure charges, which entails a lengthy, expensive process.
The board intends to fully comply with the subpoena and will talk to its labor attorney about its ramifications, he said. Officials will be made available to testify if needed, he said.
Freeman also expressed deep concerns about a drastic fall in test scores at H.B. Wilson and U.S. Wiggins elementary schools. Wilson saw the more severe fallback. Last year, 100 percent of fourth-graders passed the math section, but only 23 percent passed this year. The decline was nearly as stark in language arts.
Wiggins' passing scores tumbled from the high 90-percent range to the mid-50s.
"I don't want to come out and say it's cheating," Freeman said. "We still have some investigations going on, but it's highly suspicious."
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