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W.Va. principal, secretary investigated

August 07, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. - An administrator and a former secretary at the new Musselman High School are being investigated by West Virginia State Police for possible misuse of school money, according to police and the Berkeley County school superintendent.

The secretary, who school officials confirmed was Sandra McDonald, resigned July 20 after admitting to the superintendent that she misused school funds, according to a press release issued by Berkeley County schools' public relations office.

Musselman Principal John J. Cole has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said in a telephone interview Wednesday night.

The school district's press release said the investigation involved an administrator, who Arvon refused to name.

Cole did not return several phone messages left at his home.

McDonald declined to comment when reached at her home.

The new school will open for its first students on Aug. 26 with an acting principal.

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The situation at Musselman High School came to light when some financial records turned up missing, according to State Police Sgt. J.A. Humphrey.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said the dollar amount was in excess of $1,000. She would not be more specific.

The release from the schools said in part:

"The Board of Education is currently working with the state police on an investigation of financial misconduct on the part of a secretary and an administrator at Musselman High School. As of July 20, a secretary resigned her position after admitting to the superintendent that she misused school funds.

"The principal has since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the state police investigation."

Arvon said the school system has tried to deal with the situation swiftly and appropriately to maintain the integrity of the school system and not hamper the opening of the new school.

"People must believe in their school system," Arvon said.

All schools in West Virginia are expected to follow a state-mandated procedure for spending money, he said.

Individual schools are audited annually by an outside accountant, Arvon said.

Kitty Cauffman, assistant principal at Hedgesville High School, will be acting principal at Musselman until the matter is resolved, he said.

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