Thorpe business manager resigns
Jim Thorpe Area School District’s board of directors has accepted the resignation of business manager Lauren Kovac.
Kovac had been on paid leave from her position since September, as the district superintendent conducted an investigation into the processes and practices of the business office.
On Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to approve a release and settlement agreement with Kovac, effective immediately.
Kovac was not in attendance and couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night. She signed the agreement as well as an enclosed resignation letter.
Under the terms of the agreement, Kovac will receive $36,000 from the district upon her resignation.
The agreement states that Kovac has no admission of wrongdoing. It prohibits her from working in the school district in the future. She agreed she would not sue the district.
Kovac’s salary was $96,305 in 2018-19.
The board did not make any comments about the resignation agreement, but following the meeting, board member Gerald Strubinger said that the district was ready to move on from the investigation into the business office, which came after residents raised concerns about school board members and administrators dining and flying first class using a district credit card taken out in Kovac’s name.
“This closes the door,” Strubinger said. “We’re at the point where it’s over and done with.”
Board member Dr. Clement McGinley said he saw no evidence that Kovac did anything against the law or unethical during her time as business manager. But he said the agreement was fair with respect to her and the district.
“There was nothing to suggest anything untoward or illegal, I’ll stress that. It was an amicable situation.”
The board’s attorney, Carl Beard, said Kovac’s resignation was not the result of the investigation into the business office, but it does mark the end of that investigation.
In September, the district hired Levin Legal Group at a cost of $180-$200 per hour and auditing firm EisnerAmper with an initial cost of $5,000 to assist them with investigating the processes and practices of the business office. That came after the board received the results of a forensic review of potential credit card misuse by Kovac and former Superintendent Brian Gasper, which cost $15,000.
The board ordered a forensic review of the administrators’ credit card use after it was revealed that school board members flew first class to out of state conferences and held lunch meetings with Gasper at area restaurants. Gasper left the district in June after the board declined to renew his contract. The expenses were paid for with a district credit card taken out in Kovac’s name. The board regularly approved the expenses, but never officially voted to authorize Kovac to apply for the card.
The district has denied requests for the report that resulted from the forensic review. The Times News filed a right-to-know request, which was denied. The editor, Marta Gouger, and the paper appealed to the Office of Open Records, who ruled the report should be handed over. The district has filed in Carbon County Court of Common Pleas to block the report from being released.