A State Grand Jury has indicted EVIT (East Valley Institute of Technology) Superintendent Chad Wilson, for Theft and Misuse of Public Monies in connection with his time working at the Apache Junction Unified School District.
The 49-year-old Wilson is accused of awarding school administrators more than $133,000 in unauthorized compensation.
The Office of the Auditor General conducted an investigation and discovered that during his time as Apache Junction Unified School District (AJUSD) Superintendent, Wilson reportedly awarded various school administrators performance pay, professional development instruction pay, and athletic attendance pay without informing the district’s governing board and obtaining approval.
Auditor General’s findings:
Dr. Wilson illicitly authorized $133,223 of payments to District administrators for “performance,” “professional development instruction,” and “athletic event attendance” that required Governing Board approval because the compensation was not included in administrators’ employment contracts. District policy requires that the Board establish salaries and benefits for all employees. As the District superintendent, Dr. Wilson agreed to abide by District policies, rules, and regulations. Moreover, beginning in about July 2006, Dr. Wilson routinely attended meetings related to Board approval of employee compensation and therefore knew, or should have known, he did not have authority to independently approve payments beyond what was outlined in employee contracts.
Dr. Wilson authorized “performance” payments for 11 to 15 administrators at the end of each school year from 2012 through 2016 without obtaining Board approval or even establishing specific performance criteria administrators had to meet to qualify for the payments. Instead, principals and assistant principals received performance pay in the same amount that teachers at their respective schools earned by meeting their stated performance criteria, and District-level administrators received performance pay as an approximate average of the payments to teachers throughout the District. These payments to principals, assistant principals, and District administrators ranged from $737 to $2,786.
Dr. Wilson authorized $3,880 of “professional development instruction” payments for 5 to 7 administrators, including $480 for himself, and $2,550 of “athletic event attendance” payments to 3 administrators for school years 2016 and 2017. These payments, ranging from $80 to $720, were for time administrators spent on Fridays providing professional development instruction and attending athletic events. As mentioned earlier, because the District was experiencing financial pressure, the Board adopted a 4-day school week as a cost-saving measure for these 2 school years, and Fridays were no longer regular workdays. Nonetheless, the Board had not given approval for any of these payments.
Moreover, even though Dr. Wilson’s employment contract required him to dedicate in excess of 40 hours per week to perform his duties, Dr. Wilson directed staff to include his Friday “professional development instruction” hours with the other administrators and thereby received $480 he was not entitled to.
Wilson is accused of approving payments during a time when AJUSD was experiencing financial difficulties and cutting school programs to maintain operations.
According to the Arizona Republic, a consulting firm owned by failed Democratic Party Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate David Schapira was paid more than $100,000 by the District. House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who moonlights as a substitute teacher, was paid more than double the normal rate for teaching at the District.
Wilson was the superintendent of the AJUSD from 2009 to 2017.