State probe is critical of Kane school chief

A state investigation is highly critical of Kane School District Superintendent Dr. Maryann Anderson when she served as supervisor of Special Services for the Millcreek Township School District near Erie.According to the report issued last week by State Auditor General Jack Wagner:*Anderson as supervisor of Special Services "diverted $91,873 from the district's special education program by purchasing gift cards with special education funds and using the gift cards for non-program purposes."*The Millcreek Township School District is "unable to account for $341,140 of school-based ACCESS Program funds that it received during a three-year period ending June 30, 2006." According to documents in a federal court case, Anderson served as the Millcreek's supervisor of special education and student services from 1996 to July 2006.*Two Millcreek school employees "removed approximately $2,100 worth of gift cards from an unlocked file cabinet drawer" in Anderson's office "without her knowledge.""These allegations were investigated by this department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI),"  Wagner said in a report to Michael Palermo, president of the Millcreek School Board.Anderson said Thursday that the state auditor's investigation began shortly after she filed a "whistleblower" lawsuit against the Millcreek School Board, the superintendent, a school board member and the woman who replaced her as supervisor of special education.She filed her federal civil rights lawsuit in March 2007. Wagner said his office "in June, 2007, received a request from the Millcreek Township School District for an investigation into allegations of the misuse of federal school-based ACCESS program funds."Anderson, who was hired three years ago as the Kane school superintendent, believes the auditor's investigation was requested to "retaliate" against her for filing the lawsuit. This suit still is pending in federal district court in Erie. Anderson, who is visiting her daughter in North Carolina, admitted using gift cards to "reward" students and staff for their performances. She claims the use of gift cards in this manner was "a district practice" in Millcreek at the time.See full article by purchasing the May 25 edition of The Kane Republican.