School board members: Dallemand in Haiti | News
Three Bibb County Board of Education members told 13WMAZ they were notified that former Superintendent Romain Dallemand is now living in Haiti.
The board members, Lynn Farmer, Lester Miller and Jason Downey, did not say how they learned of Dallemand's whereabouts or why he was in Haiti. That's where Dallemand was born.
Last week, an audit concluded that Dallemand committed the school system to tens of millions of dollars in spending without prior board approval or adherence to bidding procedures.
We have been trying to reach Dallemand for comment since the audit was released on Thursday.
Dallemand left the school system a year ago when the school board bought out the remainder of his contract.
Earlier this week, Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said he would ask the state Attorney General's office to decide whether the results of the audit merited a criminal investigation.
Cooke disqualified himself from the matter because he is on the board of Promise Neighborhood, a community project that received school system funding at Dallemand's direction.
Check back for more reaction from board members to the results of the audit.
The audit showed Dallemand committed the school to more than 51 million dollars in contracts without the school board's approval. But what was the school board's responsibility? And what did they know... While the deals were underway?
13WMAZ's Elise Brown caught up with current board members and asked them. Tom Hudson spoke to us Tuesday night and declined to say anything else today. Ella Carter told me she didn't want to comment at this time. And we couldn't reach Thelma Dillard for comment.
We first asked if they knew Dallemand was spending millions without their approval. Lynn Farmer has been on the board for 12 years and says she didn't realize the problems were going on while Dallemand was in office.
"I had a lot of concerns because we didn't seem to get a lot of information about finances," said Farmer.
Board president Sue Sipe said there was not much communication between the board and Dallemand at that time. Like Farmer said she saw red flags after Dallemand was gone. She became concerned after learning about unapproved technology contracts.
"I think technology brought a contract to us that needed to be ratified after the fact. And I started asking a lot of questions with Mr. Howard, our in house attorney, about this contract," she said. "And when it originated and we realized that it was over the spending limit of the superintendent."
Lester Miller has been on the board since January 2013, coming in at the tail end of many of the problems cited in the audit.
"People may say they had suspicions or rumors, it did not become official in writing until we received that audit and it was very shocking," said Miller.
Like Miller, Jason Downey has been a board member for just a year. He saif he knew there had been problems with Dallemand committing money to the Macon Promise Neighborhood Project. But he didn't know about all the spending cited in the audit.
"I did not realize at that time that it involved acting in bad faith by not securing board approval prior to making these expenditures and I don't know that a lot of the board members did either," said Downey.
Wanda West has been on the school board for four years, she said she didn't know what Dallemand was doing...and agrees that there was disconnect between him and board. "No I didn't know. At the point that I did know I worked with the board members to decide what was next," said West.
In response to the audit the board voted six to two last Thursday to request an investigation of Dallemand's spending. Tom Hudson and Ella Carter voted against it.
"As elected officials we have a fiduciary duty to all of the students, the teachers, the tax payers of Bibb County to find out, you know get to the bottom of it," said Miller.
When we asked if the school board dropped the ball on supervising their superintendent, board members gave different reactions.
"You know, I feel like I was asking questions all along. Do I feel that as a group we did? Yes,there should have been more accountability," said Farmer.
"I think there were a lot of people that dropped the ball. And I don't think theres any one party that's more at fault than the other," said Downey.
"You can call it what you wanna but if you don't know the ball is out there I don't know that you drop it," said West.
But Sipe says the board did its job. "There's no way that I can see how the school board could have known these things were going on," she said.
She said the board ratified some contracts after lawyers brought their attention to it. Miller says there are two boards to consider a 2012 board and a 2013 board. He, Downey and Dillard joined the board at the start of last year.
"Prior to us entering the board you had a flurry of activity with all these contracts," said Miller.
Some board members think the districts problems will hinder the search for a new superintendent and some don't.
PREVIOUSLY: Audit: $51 million in improper spending
PREVIOUSLY: Special state prosecutor to review audit