The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 17, 2013

UPDATED: Career Tech director accused of misusing school account

DA: Authorities retrieve items from director’s Elkmont residence

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

— Authorities said on Tuesday that the investigation into the misuse of a school account at the Limestone County Career Technical Center is ongoing by the school system, Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

Career Tech Center Director Mickey Charles Glass, 41, of 25402 Hays Mill Road in Elkmont, is charged with first-degree theft of property.

Glass turned himself in at the Limestone County Jail at 5 p.m. Monday and posted $5,000 bail an hour later, according to jail records. (The age listed differs from a previous report because his birthday is Dec. 17 and the arrest occurred on Dec. 16.)

District Attorney Brian Jones told The News Courier on Tuesday that Glass is accused of misusing a school account designated for purchasing instructional equipment and materials.

Jones said after Glass used the account to buy items, he would sell them locally and online through eBay and Craigslist, or he would keep the items for personal use.

“He is accused of buying property for the school and then selling it online or selling it locally,” Jones said. “A couple of items have been retrieved from his house — a lawnmower that was purchased for the school and a pool pump we removed from his pool (Monday) night.”

The district attorney described both the local and federal investigations into the misuse of school funds as "ongoing."

Sheriff Mike Blakely said the theft charge stemmed from allegations that Glass took property belonging to the school system. He said the charge would be presented to the next grand jury in early 2014.

First-degree theft of property is a Class B felony, which carries a sentence of two to 20 years and a $30,000 maximum fine.

Blakely said an ongoing investigation by the FBI is separate from one conducted by the Sheriff’s Office, and is being led by Investigator Lt. Lance Royals.

School officials said Tuesday they could not comment about specifics or discuss Glass but confirmed they are actively investigating the situation.

Dr. Tom Sisk, superintendent of Limestone County Schools, placed Glass on paid administrative leave last month. He previously said the leave began on Nov. 12 and was pending the outcome of an inquiry into the school’s records by a forensic auditor.

Glass is in his third year as director of the Career Tech Center, which he joined in 2011 after spending eight years as principal at Elkmont High School.

School records show that he joined the Limestone school system in 1998 as a teacher at Elkmont and served as the school’s assistant principal from 2002-03.

Glass and his family are active members of Lindsay Lane Baptist Church in Athens.

Funds and equipment

Through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, the Career Tech Center receives annual federal appropriations to purchase classroom equipment and supplies. The school has 15 courses and approximately 532 students, according to its website.

The Career Tech Center has $103,849 in budgeted federal funds for the current fiscal year. The school received $94,549 for fiscal 2013 and $100,960 the previous year, according to financial records at the central office.

Chief School Finance Officer Ann Swanner said on Tuesday when school equipment is purchased, the transaction involves a requisition form, a purchase order to the vendor and an invoice sent to either the school or the central office for payment from a specific account.

The central office received board approval on Dec. 10 to switch from undergoing a system-wide inventory assessment every two years to having an audit conducted annually.

Swanner said inventory checks at the system’s 13 campuses were finished last week and took two weeks to complete. She said a finalized inventory findings are not yet available, including the list for Career Tech.

Swanner said the inventory is conducted electronically, with the school system’s auditor using barcodes on school equipment to check whether it is an active or an inactive item. She said equipment labeled as inactive could mean items are missing or they have been sold, destroyed or moved.

When asked about increasing the audits from biannually to every year, a school board member said he was unaware of whether the change is related to the Career Tech investigation.

Special meeting

The seven-member Limestone school board met at 7 a.m. Tuesday at the Clinton Street courthouse annex to review their options for the Career Tech investigation.

The school board went into a brief executive session to discuss what the superintendent previously described as “possible litigation,” and no action was taken at the meeting, according to a board member.

Information discussed during an executive session does not have to be released when discussing the character of an employee.

“I’ve been advised not to comment on this,” Sisk said on Monday, referring to school board attorney J.R. Brooks and the ongoing investigation.

Tanner High School Assistant Principal Vince Green is the interim Career Tech director.

The next regular board meeting is at 6 p.m. Jan. 7, at the Clinton Street courthouse annex.