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Thorpe business manager resigns

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    Lauren Kovac

Published November 14. 2019 12:40PM

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.

Comments
JT School District mantra: Don't Ask!
1. Tax payers raise concerns about inappropriate spending of tax dollars by board members and administrators.
2. Business manager goes on PAID leave in September after issue is raised to SD.
3. SD hires legal firm and auditing firm after receiving the results of a forensic review of POTENTIAL improprieties.
4. It is learned the school board regularly approved these expenditures but the cards origin was not approved by the SB.
5. The SB refuses to publicly release the results of the "review."
6. The SB unanimously agrees to a release and settlement agreement that obviously has been in the negotiation stage for sometime between Kovac and SB. AND, Kovac agreed -not to- sue? Is Kovac eligible to collect a pension from the JT S.D.?
7. Kovac has no admission of wrong doing in the agreement and Dr. McGinley supports the agreement and adds he saw no evidence of unlawful or unethical conduct EVEN THOUGH the audit is ongoing.

How is this for protecting the funds and rights of taxpayers. Dr. McGinley publicly agrees to sign off on potential unlawful conduct before the actual audit is complete, according to this article.
Transparency exposed the issue.
Taxpayers are upset with waste.
Lack of full transparency covers the issue in doubt.
District spends educational funds on audits, attorneys, settlements, pensions, restaurants and first class airfare.
Board has authority and respojsibility to regularly review and audit EVERY expenditure PRIOR to release.
Board blocks release of lawful transparency with more attorney fees.
Taxpayers lose.
Board could be personally, financially responsible for government funds spent that were not in accordance with the PA School Code. Look up public official surcharges.
Government of, by and for the people needs to be restored.

Vote out the immoral board, vote in morality and people that support lawful government transparency.

All the waste is reduced, or exposed immediately, if the people had lawful transparency. All government funds spent are supposed to be transparent. All the educational funds being squandered on blocking the very transparency that promoted efficient use should be stopped. The Oath of a director is to act with fidelity.

Good job Jim Thorpe voters, some directors replaced, more to go.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Lehighton Area School district will have a moral majority. Four rubber stampers left, five moral directors will be seated in December. God Bless America.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
There are not very many people with morals in that town. Jim Thorpe is a very tight-knit community because lets face it....they're almost all related if not a transplant. They vote in their friends/family and bid out jobs the same way. Is anyone in Jim Thorpe surprised by this? Nope. Kudos to the person(s) who started questioning the JTASD spending habits!
Perhaps Citizen David should move to Jim Thorpe and take over their school board since he’s so effing perfect, most of Lehighton would be thrilled!
Yes there are Irish extended families in Jim Thorpe.
Also the Polish and Italian are known to live in close radius, its called extended families of generations. Call them clans, or having a sense of community, or what ever you want. Generations that live in close proximity and care for each other.
Release the report and be transparent. Mike Principe led the thievery efforts as well and now he is selling his house so he can get out of the area quickly.

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