Brookland School Board meeting leaves some ‘disappointed’

Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:08 AM CDT
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BROOKLAND, Ark. (KAIT) - While investigations involving a potential misuse of public funds within the Brookland School District continue, many hoped to get answers in Monday’s meeting.

The school board met for nearly four hours with dozens in attendance.

They approved the legislative audit that mentioned the misuse of public funds.

The 30-page report found no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the district’s finances.

However, the audit mentioned the allegations concerning misuse of school property and the district’s lack of a formal policy on the disposal of surplus or obsolete equipment.

The prosecuting attorney decided not to prosecute in the misuse of items case.

The board worked through the agenda for an hour, approving items such as removing the mask mandate, then broke for an executive session that lasted two and a half hours.

The board cited “personnel and employment” as reasons for its executive session, but they refused to elaborate.

That’s when Region 8 News began talking with those in attendance, including one former board member.

Keith McGaughey read a statement by Rick Hathcoat, alleging the district allowed dozens of employees to eat free meals, going against the school’s policy and costing the district tens of thousands of dollars.

He added that a petition was allegedly passed around the district, urging faculty members to sign the petition in support of Superintendent Keith McDaniel.

McGaughey showed the school’s policy handbook to the board, saying he wants to see more transparency and accountability within the board.

“I’m disappointed,” McGaughey said. “I was on the board for 31 and a half years, we’ve got an excellent school, and some of the decisions and some things that [have] been done in the last few years... I don’t think we’re where we should be.”

The board addressed those concerns after the executive session when they read a letter by Aramark claiming the meals didn’t cost the district.

One woman asked to speak at the end of the meeting, but the board denied her request.

Supt. Keith McDaniel and School Board President Josh Gallion declined our interview request after the meeting and referred us to District Attorney Donn Mixon.

Mixon didn’t attend the meeting, but Gallion said he approved the agenda and the reasoning for the executive session.

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