Hartselle City Schools cleared by Ethics Commission (with link to letter)
The Alabama Ethics Commission has informed Hartselle School Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed that it will not take any further action regarding the Hartselle baseball booster club account, out of which at least four coaches were paid during the last year.
Reed received a letter Friday from Hugh R. Evans III, general counsel for the commission, stating that fact. Hartselle City Schools provided a copy of the letter to the Hartselle Enquirer Friday morning.
“As these potential problems existed in the past and the school system is taking steps to correct the situation, I do not see where further action is required on our part, as I’m sure everyone’s intentions were good,” Evans said in the letter dated July 12. “We do not have any sample policies. However, it can be done in numerous ways, as long as it is run through the school system. The reason for this is so that the school system may maintain control over the situation, and know exactly who is getting paid what.”
Reed said he was relieved after reading the letter Friday morning. He also added that the school board would likely revise its policies regarding booster club accounts later this year.
“I am relieved to hear that there will not be any further action taken against me or these employees that were reported to the state,” Reed said. “I believe everyone had good intentions, but it just wasn’t handled the right way. We will have to adopt a new policy to make sure that a situation like this will not happen again.”
An investigation of the Hartselle High School baseball booster club account, which was in a separate account from the school system’s finances, revealed that at least four employees received payments directly from the baseball booster account, which by law is an ethics violation.
Reed also reported himself for an ethics violation because he didn’t report it within the first 10 days after he was notified of the issue.
Reed said he wrote a letter to the ethics commission July 7 reporting the violation and explained what happened.
The baseball program had two accounts, one set up through the high school and another that was at a different bank from the rest of the bank accounts owned by Hartselle City Schools. Upon Reed learning of the bank account, he asked head baseball coach William Booth to close the account. The money from that account was then deposited into the account with the high school.
“That bank account has been closed as of the June 28,” Reed said in an Enquirer story on July 7. “Our CSFO has balanced the bank records and determined that there is no missing money.”
In a separate matter, Hartselle High School was fined $250 and given a year of probation after the baseball team used an ineligible player. The baseball team also had to forfeit eight junior varsity games, but no varsity games were affected.