The Jim Thorpe Area School District has suspended its business manager as it continues to investigate a possible misuse of funds.
Lauren Kovac, the district's business manager and school board secretary, has been placed on paid leave, effective immediately. The matter was voted on at a special board meeting Tuesday night.
"An investigation is being conducted for the purpose of reviewing her performance and the procedures and processes in the business office," said school board president, Pearl Downs-Sheckler.
Kovac came under fire last year by residents who accused her of mismanaging taxpayer money. They questioned several charges on a district credit card, issued in Kovac's name, including numerous payments at local restaurants. The complaints prompted the district to order a financial audit.
A News 13 investigation also revealed first-class flights had been charged to Kovac's credit card to pay for some board members and former superintendent Brian Gasper to attend out-of-state conferences.
When the school district received the report, it was actually a financial review which had been conducted, rather than a full audit. A new investigation into the business office is now being launched, although the school board could not confirm what the scope of that investigation would be.
"We believe something else needs to be looked at, that's all I can tell you right now," said Carl Beard, the school district's solicitor, to a resident at Tuesday's meeting.
He added, "There is a belief the first one did not cover what all was requested."
On Tuesday, the board approved an initial payment of $5,000 to the accounting firm which will be assisting superintendent John Rushefski and the district's legal team with the new investigation.
The money will not be paid until the scope of the audit is agreed upon by both the district and the firm.
The school district has denied requests to release the findings of the first financial review, stating the report is not subject to Pennsylvania's Open Records Law.
"Something came out of it, you're just not holding it. We're holding the information, you just don't have access to it," said Beard to residents on Tuesday.
News 13 reached out to Rushefski, who says he cannot comment on personnel matters or the ongoing investigation.
The Jim Thorpe School Board is scheduled to next meet on Wednesday, September 18th.