The embattled former executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards will appear at a statehouse hearing today. Maxine Kilcrease was hired to be executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards last summer. She was fired late last month after revelations that she’d raised her own pay by about $150,000 last fall, without approval from the group’s board of directors.
The F.B.I. is investigating, but no criminal charges have been filed. Legislators issued a subpoena to get her to appear at today’s Legislative Oversight Committee hearing in Des Moines. Yesterday, a judge rejected Kilcrease’s claim that her constitutional rights would be violated if she appears at the hearing, so she’ll be there late this morning, although it’s unclear whether she’ll claim fifth amendment protection and refuse to answer questions.
Earlier this year the Legislative Oversight Committee opened hearings to investigate the operations of the Iowa Association of Schools to determine whether taxpayer dollars have been misspent.
tOfficials at the Iowa Association of School Boards say the budget may be “tight” at the association, but the group is not facing a “financial crisis.”
Megan Forgrave, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Association of School Boards, says Kilcrease may have been putting up a “smoke screen” late last year when Kilcrease ordered furloughs at the association and told the group’s board of directors there was an impending financial melt-down.
“Our doors are still open. We’re still operating. Money might be a little bit tight, but everything our auditors can tell us (indicates) we are not in a financial crisis,” Forgrave says, “and so we fully intend to move forward and keep providing services to schools like we have.”
Kilcrease — the fired executive director of the I.A.S.B. — has claimed she was “set up” by the group’s former chief financial officer. The association’s spokeswoman maintains that beyond Kilcrease’s inflated salary and another executive’s misuse of a credit card, there is “no other sign of fraud” in the group’s programs or services.
The Iowa Association of Schools Boards is planning a bit of a public relations offensive with its members. Forgrave says it will start in May when school boards get the notice to renew annual memberships in the state association. “The board, now that they’ve kind of gotten through a lot of this stuff and most of the investigations are drawing to a close, they are going to make a significant outreach effort to members over the next month or two,” Forgrave says, “really trying to make sure all our members have their questions answers and get some real good feedback on where they want to see the organization moving forward.”
Nolden Gentry, the attorney who was hired in March to try to sort out the group’s affairs, is a former Des Moines School Board member. He says getting school boards to again “think kindly” of the association is the goal. “I think it will take time to rebuild the confidence in us, but at least we would like them to have a somewhat positive feeling about us by August or September of this year,” Gentry says.
The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:30 this morning.