FBI investigates school system’s at-risk funds

Published 9:43 pm Monday, November 24, 2008

The FBI has issued a subpoena for records and documents related to all organizations and people who have applied for or received at-risk funds from the Selma City School Board.

The subpoena covers dates from Oct. 1, 2004 to the present. The records were due in U.S. District Court on Nov. 12. A spokesman with the FBI in Mobile declined to discuss the subpoena.

The Selma School System uses at-risk funds to provide underperforming students with tutoring, intervention, focus group counseling and other types of aid, said Superintendent Austin Obasohan.

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Obasohan referred all questions about the subpoena to the school board’s attorney, Katy Smith Campbell. Campbell could not be reached for comment.

“I trust the legal system to take care of it,” Obasohan said. “At some point you and I will know. For right now, for respect for the process, I have no wish to dig into that.”

School board member Anne Fitts said she did not know what prompted the subpoena.

“I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from or what it’s about,” she said. “I didn’t know about it.”

School board President Barbara Stapp-Hiouas did not return telephone calls.

Debra Reeves-Howard referred to an ongoing investigation by the FBI and an audit by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts in a letter sent Monday to Selma City Council President Geraldine Allen. In the letter, she called the board and the superintendent’s office “negligent” in performing its duties.

“I sincerely hope that the Selma City Council will take the present state of the Selma City school system into consideration when making future decisions regarding the Selma City Board of Education,” Reeves-Howard wrote.

Allen could not be reached for comment.

In a recent interview with The Times-Journal, Obasohan said the school board initiated the audit by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts several months ago.