Jan. 5 School Board meeting called to sign contract with investigator who will look into missing school money

The Monroe County School Board is expected to vote on a contract Jan. 5 for a Miami-based forensic investigator to probe where unaccounted-for money from Key West's Horace O'Bryant School went.

School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths called the special meeting Tuesday, saying he did not want to lose a week before the board's scheduled Jan. 12 workshop at the Henriquez Building on Trumbo Road in Key West.

Richard Fechter, who received unanimous board approval on Dec. 15 to enter into a contract with the district, has been hashing out particulars with School Board attorney Dirk Smits the past few days. A cost has yet to be determined.

"We have to approve a contract," Griffiths said. "I hope they get it together and it's a three-minute meeting."

Fechter was one of two forensic investigators hired by the School District in 2009 to investigate then-Superintendent Randy Acevedo and his wife, Monique Acevedo. Monique Acevedo was head of adult education for the district and is now serving the latter portion of her eight-year prison term for stealing close to a half a million dollars from the district.

Her now-ex-husband received three years probation for covering up the theft.

Fechter, who was a senior state assistant attorney general from 1990 to 1993, co-authored a report in the Acevedo scandal that had a damning account of breakdowns in the school system that led to unchecked, unauthorized spending.

HOB Principal Mike Henriquez said he alerted the district to the missing Horace O'Bryant day-care money in November 2014. Families paid into it with cash or checks.

The district's contracted accounting firm, King & Walker, issued a report in May finding that from July 2014 to March 2015, the School District had receipts for the program totaling $62,298. Actual deposits added up to $41,559, a difference of $20,739.

The day care costs parents $45 per week. About 150 children are enrolled. The State Attorney's Office is also investigating.

The state Auditor General's Office is scheduled to release a School District audit, which will include a section on the unaccounted for day-care money, after this month.

The board is scheduled to meet Jan. 5 at noon at the Henriquez Building on Trumbo Road in Key West.