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Attorney Report Revealed to SJSD Board of Education

The report addresses allegations of nepotism and the improper awarding of stipends to chief administrators among other items. Completed by an attorney hired by the school district, it
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A report prepared by an attorney hired by the St. Joseph School District says accusations of nepotism, inappropriate awarding of stipends to chief administrators and other benefits for board members are off base and without merit.

The 84 page report was filed by Tom Mickes, a St. Louis attorney retained for the St. Joseph Schools by the district's insurance company.

Mickes specializes in school-related legal matters. His report was a response to address issues that have led to an FBI investigation, a state audit and questions and doubt from the community.

One by one, accusations were dismissed by the report and supported Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka and the Board of Education.

"It supports everything," said Czerwonka. "That's why you have good people and that's why you go through the process."

Czerwonka read part of the report aloud for the board, the media and public that attended the meeting.

"Integrity of board members has been questioned," Czerwonka read. "One can read in the media that rogue individuals run the district. The reality is that the district operates under a budget operated in a public way."

Following the meeting Czerwonka met with media and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Sometimes the truth, while temporarily defeated, will be known," he said. "Sometimes when you do an investigation, it takes time. You have to make sure all the "i's" are dotted and "t's" are crossed and make sure you have every document you have."

The report is not binding and only represents the opinion of the district's attorney. It has no relevance to the FBI investigation or state audit.

Board member Chris Danford, who has often been a critic of Czerwonka and board activities, was not impressed with the report.

"Like every other board member, we all want to get to the bottom of this," she said. "We feel like policies have been violated."

"To me, it appears that Mr. Mickes has already decided that he has been the judge and jury on this investigation," she continued. "The FBI shouldn't be involved, the audit is clean, we're good. Then, why is the FBI here, and why are the state auditors here. Why did the governor say: 'State Auditor office, come to St. Joseph'."

Following a review of the report, the board voted 5-2 to retain Mickes' law firm for any additional legal work that might be needed in the future. Danford, and new board member Lori Prussman, cast the 'no' votes.
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