NPS administrator on leave for allegedly falsifying reimbursement documents
NORFOLK, Neb. -- Following the announcement of Dr. Bill Robinson's resignation, Norfolk Public Schools administrators have released a statement in response to a letter from the Nebraska State Auditor.
NPS said immediately following allegations that were presented by State Auditor Mike Foley's office, they began an internal investigation and placed Robinson on administrative leave.
Robinson tendered his resignation effective Aug. 15 and will remain on leave until then.
"We are taking the recommendations provided by Foley's office utmost seriously, and are re-evaluating our inter control procedures to include additional safeguards to protect the district and our taxpayer's money," said Superintendent Dr. Jami Jo Thompson.
The Norfolk Public School district's internal investigations is still ongoing. NPS said that it does not appear any harm has been caused to the district's financial status.
"I would like to assure our community that Norfolk Public Schools will not let this impact our amazing staff and the wonderful students we serve," Thompson said. "We remain committed to ensuring that every child is provided with outstanding educational opportunities that prepare them to meet their goals for the future."
NPS said that no further information can be provided at this time.
Foley's office released a letter Thursday is investigating allegations that the Associate Superintendent of the NPS district falsified key documents to try to secure funding reimbursement form a federal grant program.
The press release stated that the Nebraska Department of education administers numerous federal grant programs. Many of those programs offer a considerable amount of financial assistance to the public school districts in Nebraska.
"One of those grant programs is the 'Individuals with Disabilities Education Act' (IDEA), Part C, containing a 'Planning Regional Team' (PRT) subgrant," the press release stated.
The grant programs reimburse school districts for certain allowed expenses, but the requests have to be turned in within the specifically designated time frames.
Earlier this year, but six months after the submission date, the District had applied for reimbursement for over $5,000 in expenses. Because the submission was late, it was rejected by the Department.
The Auditor's press release noted that a district employee had contacted the Department to ask about a possible way to fix the rejection of the application, and they were told that the request was too overdue for them to legally process it.
Days later, Robinson reportedly contacted the Department and explained the original reimbursement document had been sent in error, and the correct paperwork was on its way.
The new documentation was submitted by Robinson the next day, and it was also denied.
The press release said that the information within the document had been changed with revised purchase dates and a different grant year for when the expenses were incurred "presumably to allow the reimbursement payment to be processed during the following grant period."
When Foley's team requested the relevant document, the district reportedly sent the auditors the original submission and not the allegedly new and apparently falsified paperwork that Robison sent to the Department.
In addition, Robinson allegedly appeared to have tried to hide how the expenses at issue were approved by the Norfolk Board of Education, the means of making those expenditures, and their actual purchase dates.
The Auditor's letter chronicles the alleged falsification of documents by Robinson in a failed try to get federal reimbursement they were no longer entitled to.
The evidence that was reportedly gathered during Foley's investigation is being forwarded to the proper authorities for further review.
"The documents that my officer believes to have been falsified constitute public records, making that alleged activity both criminal and particularly disgusting," Foley said. "It is important for public officials to remember that their actions reflect upon not only themselves but also the entities that the represent. Such cognizance is all the more essential when the reputation of our schools are at stake - the very institutions responsible for setting an example for our youth and teaching them to be responsible, trustworthy citizens."