State investigator meets with CMSD officials

June 14, 2013 12:58:07 PM

Sarah Fowler - [email protected]


An investigator with the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor was at the Columbus Municipal School District Wednesday, according the documents obtained by The Dispatch. 


A sign-in sheet located in the lobby of Brandon Central Office revealed investigator Eileen Vanderweel Wednesday met with district business office supervisor Felicia Elmore who has taken on the duties of CFO since chief financial officer Kenneth Hughes was fired on May 3. Multiple sources within the district said Vanderweel met with Elmore and CMSD board attorney David Dunn for several hours before leaving with stacks of documents. 


Dunn did not return phone calls from The Dispatch Thursday evening and Friday morning. 


Citing standard policy, the auditor's office would not confirm or deny if the district is under investigation. An investigation differs from a standard audit in that a complaint must first be filed with the auditor's office.  


Vanderweel's visit came on the heels of a nearly four-hour executive session held Tuesday regarding Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell's job performance. Over the past several weeks, The Dispatch has obtained mounting evidence concerning Liddell's job performance, including extensive travel which resulted in her being absent from the district for as much as one-third of the school year, a private Christmas party that involved use of district funds and personnel, her continued active role in a grant-writing company despite a CMSD policy prohibiting the superintendent from engaging in outside work and a delay in Project 2020, a dropout prevention program slated to begin June 1 but has not acquired full funding or approval from The Mississippi Department of Education. 


The school board has a regular meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Brandon Central Services.

Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.