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Ex-KC principal accused of theft has contract job

Ex-KC principal accused of theft has contract job

October 13th, 2011 by HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH, Associated Press in News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri state auditor said he is perplexed that a former Kansas City school district principal who has been charged with stealing from a student activity fund is an administrator at a school run by a district contractor.

Jamia Dock, the former principal of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, was charged this year with one count of theft in Jackson County Circuit Court. A case management hearing is scheduled for Thursday. A detective wrote in the probable cause statement that Dock had lost $12,793.89 at a casino from June 2008 through August 2009.

The case against her is one of the problems cited in an audit released Tuesday on the operations of the historically troubled district.

Dock, 36, of Kansas City, is no longer an employee of the Kansas City School District but works for the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus.

About 1,200 students in preschool through 12th grade are enrolled in the African-centered program. It is part of the public school system, but its contract gives it greater autonomy than a regular school, making it similar in some ways to a charter school. Dock - referred to as "Mama Jamia Dock" on the school's website - is listed as the site administrator of the upper campus, which serves ninth- to 12th-graders.

"We are a little perplexed that the former principal who had been indicted for allegedly embezzling $58,000 has been hired as a site administrator for a contractor in the district," said State Auditor Tom Schweich. "But that's really something the district has to decide, how you treat somebody that is under indictment. That was kind of surprising to us."

District spokeswoman Eileen Houston-Stewart said she has no comment other than that Dock worked as an employee of the district from August 2002 through June 2010.

Calls to what appeared to be Dock's home number rang unanswered. Cecil Williams, Dock's attorney, didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment. Neither did Ajamu Webster, president of the board overseeing the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus.

A contractor operates the school program in three buildings near the Kansas City Zoo. The district reached an agreement last year to pay the program $8,500 per student, plus any federal funding that follows specific students. Under that agreement, the school's operator was leasing the buildings for $1 and covering all the maintenance and operational costs. It was not immediately known if the agreement had changed since then.

According to the recent audit of the Kansas City schools, the district's bank said in August 2009 that the student activity account for Lincoln College Preparatory Academy had a negative balance. An employee who was designated as treasurer and oversaw the account informed the district about an "inappropriate alteration" of a deposit slip by Dock.

Two signatures are needed to disburse money and Dock's was one of those signatures. But the treasurer - not Dock - was supposed to make deposits, the audit said.

The district hired an auditing firm to perform a forensic investigation of the account. The firm found $58,849 in either unauthorized transactions or receipts that weren't deposited by the former principal, the audit said. Some of the money was recovered. The probable cause statement only charged her $47,729 in losses, the amount she withdrew at the bank.

The audit said district policy requires the treasurer to submit copies of all invoices and bank reconciliation statements for review by the 15th of each month, except for the summer months. June, July and August reports can be submitted in September.

The May 2009 report showed a balance of $40,741. The audit found that the majority of the inappropriate disbursements occurred from June to August and "may have been caught in a more timely manner if monthly reports had been submitted during those months."

Schweich said the district has since added safeguards to better monitor accounts.