SLED investigating Lee School District finances

New board member concerned about Lee, Clarendon 1 transactions

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 5/14/19

Lee County School District is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division on accusations of the possible misuse of funds.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed with The Sumter Item on Monday an ongoing investigation in the …

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SLED investigating Lee School District finances

New board member concerned about Lee, Clarendon 1 transactions

Posted

Lee County School District is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division on accusations of the possible misuse of funds.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed with The Sumter Item on Monday an ongoing investigation in the Bishopville-based district. Berry said he couldn't give any details on the case because it's part of a continuing probe.

The issue was brought up last week when a Columbia-based TV station reported allegations made by the most recently elected and newest county school board member, Reggitt James.

James said he's concerned with financial transactions between Lee's district and School District 1 in Summerton.

Reportedly, each district is paying the other district's superintendent for educational improvement consulting services. Lee County Superintendent Wanda Andrews appears to have been paid a total of $17,500 by Clarendon 1 for services last year, according to the research.

On the other hand, Clarendon 1 leader Barbara Champagne has been paid $5,000 nearly every month since 2017 by the Lee County district, totaling $75,000.

State Department of Education spokesman Ryan Brown said Monday that Champagne does serve as an external reviewer on Lee County School District's School Improvement Grant from the state and that there's nothing unusual about that.

He did say, however, that if there are other local contracts between two districts and they're paying each other's superintendent as consultants for services that aren't related to a program or grant, that would be out of place.

"I don't know if that is the case in Lee County or not," Brown said. "That has been the subject of debate."

SLED's Berry said Clarendon 1 is not being investigated.