School chief quits, investigation sealed
The school board met Tuesday night at Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School to review the results of an investigation conducted into whether payroll advances taken by a district employee violated policy, and whether the use of the district's credit card for expenditures such as liquor and limousines during several conferences, and paid for by federal grants, was inappropriate.
The investigation was conducted by attorney Dean Eggert of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters after a 2011 financial audit revealed the discrepancies, but the results of that investigation were immediately sealed after Tuesday's non-public meeting.
Back in public session, Chairman Geoffrey Brock told the 30 residents in the audience that the minutes were being sealed because the information could affect the reputation of a district employee.
Brock went on to read a brief letter of resignation from Ebel, effective immediately, which was then unanimously accepted by the board.
Regarding the funds that appear to have been used improperly during staff development conferences in Boston, Las Vegas and San Francisco, Brock said the district has been reimbursed for most of the personal expenditures.
'We do have assurance that any money owed the district will be paid to the district,' said Brock. Any funds not repaid could result in legal action, he said.
The district has closed the credit card account, said Brock, and has put in place new spending policies and measures to ensure that payroll advances won't be issued to anyone else.
Wilton resident Jen Hilton asked how the three payroll advances were issued in the first place.
'Obviously the system failed,' she said.
'We've acknowledged the failure and we've made corrections,' Brock said.
Ebel, who has been out of his office for two weeks - first on vacation and then on medical leave - did not give the amount of notice required by his contract prior to resigning, but Brock said that in lieu of meeting that obligation, Ebel had agreed to serve as a consultant for the district for the next 30 business days.
In his capacity as a consultant, Ebel will work at home, but would be on call to answer questions and offer advice for the board. Ebel will also provide support for acting Superintendent Brian Bagley, the principal of Wilton-Lyndeborough High School who has been asked to serve as superintendent through June 30. Ebel will be paid a per-diem rate based on his contractual salary and isn't expected to work more than 40 hours per week.
Brock said that with advice from Mascenic School District Superintendent Leo Corriveau and the New Hampshire School Board Association, the district will be looking to appoint an interim superintendent for the 2012-23 school year.