- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
I broke the story last week, on March 10th, with the help of knowledgeable sources within the school system. We later learned school system bosses knew of the theft at least as early as February 26th. (SEE my initial report here.)
Notably, our local daily newspaper and other traditional media had not reported the story until I did, albeit after a couple of days further delay. Later the same day of my original report – which Will Broyles immediately posted on RealShreveport.com – Liz Morace also posted it on The Inquisitor website, which she followed with an article in the next day’s print edition.
After these reports ran, Superintendent Goree was forced to acknowledge the theft, and issued a “news” release to that effect which was only then reported by the Shreveport Times and local television stations.
Though the information from my original source included a dollar-amount of $20,000 for the employee theft at Woodlawn, the school system / news media combo placed it at $2,100. Goree attempted to make the amount of money stolen the issue in his post-cover-up comments, as if the amount of $2,100 somehow explained his decision to cover-up the theft. Such was stupefying to many since the news broke at the same time that ex-Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael Williams had been convicted in federal court, and was facing a prison sentence, for stealing $2,400 from taxpayers.
My sources, now including a recently retired high-ranking CPSB official, continue to report that the investigation now underway by the Caddo Parish Sheriff Department’s Financial Crimes Unit has found evidence that the theft totaled $11,000 or $12,000. Still, some Woodlawn personnel stick by their original reports of $20,000.
Dr. Goree has apparently not been asked to account for the long delay in reporting the theft to law enforcement.
Late today, Shreveport Times reporter Segann March filed a story (SEE here) on the matter. Ms. March’s report includes three key statements:
“According to Caddo Sgt. Bobby Herring, there may be more (than $2,100 in) funds missing.”
“Anything stolen over the amount of $750 is a felony in Louisiana,” Herring said. “At this point, we don’t even know whether there will be criminal charges, but it does appear that there’s been a theft and we are looking at it that way,” he (Herring) said.
Disturbingly, The Times report adds that the employee who allegedly stole taxpayer money was placed on paid leave February 26th, and now, as the investigation continues, has been allowed to resign without being arrested or charged.
The Times reports that Woodlawn parents reported the theft, but my sources say it was reported by a top Woodlawn administrator who is not the school’s principal.
It is notable when considering any and all such education-related news media reporting here that local media and the CPSB and its top administrative staff have lengthy and enmeshed relationships.
The school system staffer who handles such news releases and relationships with local news media is Mary Nash-Wood. Now the system’s “marketing” department Assistant Director and a go-to Goree staffer, Ms. Nash-Wood joined the CPSB when she left the Shreveport Times. There, she was the newspaper’s education writer (a good one) who covered all these same subjects with system bosses.
Before Ms. Nash-Wood served as education reporter for The Times, Melody Brumble (also a good, veteran Shreveport journalist) did that reporting. She is now a Producer for KTBS Television working on these and other subjects.
My sources continue to suggest that a notable CPSB member or top staffer is involved in on-going efforts to somehow protect the accused Woodlawn employee. I cannot yet identify Dr. Goree’s role, if any, in that effort.
(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party, and has long been a registered “Other,” or Independent. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)