Friday, October 14, 2011

Former KCMSD principal suspected of stealing from student activity fund resurfaces at another school in the district

Posted by on Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 11:31 AM

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In 2009, the Kansas City, Missouri, School District fired a principal who was eventually accused of embezzling more than $58,000 from a student activity fund. She is awaiting trial in Jackson County.

You might think that suspicion of felony theft would prevent such a person from resurfacing at another school within the district. Think again. After being removed from her post at Lincoln College Prep, Jamia Dock was named the principal at the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus before the 2010-11 school year.

Dock's re-emergence at another KCMSD building was noted in a recent advisory report by Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich. The report criticized the district for "inadequate" accounting controls that did not detect her alleged theft.

According to the audit, the district learned from its bank in August 2009 that Lincoln College Prep's student activity fund had a negative balance. An "inappropriate alteration" on a deposit slip pointed at Dock. A forensic accountant identified $58,849 in sketchy-looking transactions.

Dock was put on leave in October 2009. The school board fired her two months later upon the recommendation of former superintendent John Covington.

Charges were filed against Dock in March 2011. In the meantime, she had managed to find another leadership position at a Kansas City, Missouri, school.

The African-centered program at the former Southeast High School is sort of a hybrid between a traditional public school and a privately run charter school. The district contracts with the Afrikan Centered Education Taskforce Inc., which controls the staffing and the curriculum at the school.

District officials and members of the task force have an uneasy relationship. Ajamu Webster, the task-force chairman, has complained that the district shortchanges the program. In late August, parents of children enrolled at the school filed a lawsuit against the district.

The Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus' website lists Dock as the "site administrator" for grades 9-12. In an interview with the AP, Schweich said his team was "a little perplexed" that an alleged embezzler wound up at another school within the district. “But that’s really something the district has to decide, how you treat somebody that is under indictment," he said. "That was kind of surprising to us.”

Webster did not return the AP's calls. A district spokeswoman did not comment other than to give Dock's dates of employment.

The Kansas City Star's front-page story about the audit described Dock's alleged crime but did not mention her eventual reappearance on another campus.

The African-centered program was also mentioned in a section of Schweich's audit concerning potential conflicts of interest.

The report criticized two former school board members for not reporting their ties to district contractors. One of the former board members, Marilyn Simmons, worked for Webster's engineering company while she was on the board, a relationship The Pitch has noted in the past. The audit says Simmons and the other former board member, Cokethea Hill, who is employed by the Mid-America Regional Council, which administers Head Start funding, "failed to submit statements of interest as required prior to voting on the contracts."

Simmons resigned from the board in June, citing weariness. "I don't have the strength to go on," she said.


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