Jackson School Board of Trustees President Monica Gilmore Love released a statement this afternoon about the controversy over JPS schools chief Dr. Cedrick Gray's handling of finances at his former district in Tennessee.
"The Board of Trustees is aware of the recent news items involving Dr. Cedrick Gray and the audit of his former school district in Fayette County, Tennessee. Our focus and our number one priority is, and will continue to be, to improve student achievement in our schools and to move this district forward. We are closely monitoring this matter and will take appropriate action, if and when it becomes necessary," Gilmore said in the statement.
A Tennessee comptroller's audit of Fayette County government, including the school district that Gray ran, revealed numerous accounting problems, including overspending by hundred of thousands of dollars that dwindled the school system's cash reserves.
While it looks like Gray should have kept a closer eye on the district's finances, local media's characterization of the situation as emblematic of law-breaking misdeeds is probably a bit of stretch. Some outlets have seized on the fact that the comptroller issued findings that show financial protocols. Well, anyone who has any experience reading financial reports knows that auditors almost always issue findings that reveal some sort of deficiency.
In fact, if you read the entire Fayette County audit, you'll see that the comptroller pretty much issued findings–some material–against every department from the county mayor's office, sheriff's office, register of deeds and public works.
Responding to the findings, Gray faulted inexperienced staff for the deficiencies.
“At no time was it the intention of this administration to defraud, usurp, or mislead the school board, County Commissioners, or the good people of Fayette County," Gray wrote in response.