Granville County Schools Supt. Tim Farley said a recent independent audit conducted for the school board contains major distortions.
OXFORD, N.C. -
Granville County's schools superintendent is calling into question an audit report claiming he and another school system administrator received large raises seemingly without formal approval of the school board.
Superintendent Tim Farley said a recent independent audit conducted for the school board contains major distortions regarding school board minutes as they relate to contracts and payments for he and Assistant Superintendent Allan Jordan.
"In a professional audit report, there should not be blatant inaccuracies and falsehoods," Farley said Thursday. "There should not be speculations. There is speculation about my contract and where I sit statewide as though I've done something wrong for being the second highest paid superintendent for districts of a certain size.
"That doesn't belong in an audit report. That's speculation."
School board member Rose Lyon said the board requested the audit because "things didn't seem right at the time."
Farley backed up Lyon's claim, saying that audit was intended to "clean up processes and procedures." But he said along the way the audit "took me for a ride."
"I'm being held publicly accountable for something that's absolutely not true," Farley said. "The audit makes it seem that I was doing things surreptitiously -- clandestinely -- to try to pad my pockets without anyone knowing about. That's clearly not true."
Among the audit's specifics, it claims that on May 7, 2012, the school board unanimously entered into a new contract with Farley, but the audit says minutes from the meeting show no reference to a vote on his latest contract. That contract gave Farley a salary of $192,492, which the audit says makes him the second highest paid superintendent in the state.
Farley's 2007 contract paid him $150,000 and in 2009 he earned $168,742.
Farley said the reason the minutes from the meeting showed no reference to a vote was because it was a closed-door meeting and Farley was not permitted in the executive session. Farley said he is also the board's secretary, which accounts for the lack of details in the minutes.
"At that meeting -- in executive session -- there was presented a list of administrators for approval. I'm not privy to that meeting because it's an executive session and the secretary of the board -- who is me -- is removed because they also talked about my contract," Farley explained.
"So I was not there to take notes; there were no notes taken," he continued. "When they came out of executive session, they voted on what they talked about and I accurately portrayed the vote in that they approved administrative contracts."
Farley said he also offered to give back some of the money after he was asked during a September board meeting to do so. He said his salary was ultimately decreased after a vote in November, and he offered again in April to take another pay cut.
"[The board was] a little anxious about the money portrayed in the press," Farley said of the September meeting. "We talked and they said, 'Tim, would you consider taking a decrease?' And I said, 'Sure, I don't want to be a divisive force.'"
Farley said the board has not responded to his April offer to take another pay cut.
"I even went to my board in April and said to them, 'I get this, I want to stay in Granville County. I'm happy to talk about a decrease in my salary. Whatever that may look like, we can negotiate that to no end,'" Farley said. "I'm not going to say they refused. I will tell you they did not act on that offer."
Farley said another distortion in the audit involves allegations that Assistant superintendent Allan Jordan's salary was increased in January 2013 but retroactively applied to Jan. 1, 2012. Jordan's compensation went up from $92,000 in 2007 to $172,000 in 2012. Only $1,800 of Jordan's raise resulted from school board action, the audit says.
"He didn't receive that," Farley said. "There was no retroactive pay increase. That was made clear to the auditors by two different people -- myself included -- and there are clear financials on it that it was never paid out."
Since its release, members of the community have been critical of Farley and Jordan's salaries and demanded answers about the board's actions. Farley said while it has been difficult for him to be the lightning rod for the controversy, he understands the frustration."I understand the concerns of the community and I don't begrudge anyone for the comments they made the other night [during the school board meeting]," Farley said. "I'm really sorry I'm at the center of this controversy. I didn't mean for this to happen. By the same token, I want people to know exactly what is going on."
Farley said his concern is Granville County Schools and the negative light in which the audit has painted the school system.
"The audit clearly distorts the truth and leads people to absolutely incorrect conclusion about what was going on in Granville County with regard to me and my contract," Farley said.
"I love working here. We are such a small county but we do great things," he added. "Our teachers do a superb job; recent test scores show we are doing much better. I’m proud of the work our teachers do."
Next Wednesday the school board will meet again to continue discussing the fallout from the audit and Farley said he isn't sure what will happen to him at that time.
An extended interview with Dr. Farley is available in our video section at the top of the page