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New SJSD Board Members Put to the Test Early

Lori Prussman and Kappy Hodges will face much scrutiny as they join the St. Joseph School District Board of Education. The public is expecting them to be part of the answer.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Two new members to the St. Joseph Board of Education took their seats behind their desks immediately after being inducted.

Then their ride began.

"I respectfully ask that you allow me to do the job you hired me to do," said Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka, addressing the board and the public that had come to the meeting.

It didn't take long for Lori Prussman and Kappy Hodges to realize they were now a part of clearing up controversies within the school district that has drawn the attention of the Missouri State Auditor, the Missouri Attorney General and the FBI.

"It's a really big responsibility. I think that is what has hit me the most," Hodges said.

"It was kind of surreal. It was kind of like, wow," Prussman said.

The two women were sworn in Thursday evening for six year terms.

In his remarks to the board, Dr. Czerwonka said many of the problems facing the district were created before he was hired last spring.

"It was a mess," Czerwonka said.

"I can only just imagine, myself, coming into a position like that and not having any idea," Prussman said.

Also during the meeting Thursday a representative from the State Auditor's office outlined how an audit will be conducted in the district. There will be a review of documents, financials, policies and procedures. The exhaustive audit will take several months.

"We've had stuff going on in this district for a very long time," Prussman said. "I think, quite frankly, that this can be a nice purging, be able to move forward with a clean slate and start over."

"I really feel like there's a big weight on my shoulders to do the right thing and get the district through this," said Hodges.

Both women are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

"Everyone is enthusiastic that having some new people on the board will help us get through it," said Hodges.

"I'm tired of the egos," said Prussman. "I'm tired of personal agendas. The only reason we should be there is the best thing for our kids, the best thing for our staff and what's best for our community. If that's not your focus, please step off the board."

The state audit will begin on Monday, April 21

No word yet on what the FBI was investigating during its interview in Dr. Czerwonka's office on Thursday.

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