State Auditor Shad White issued demand letters on Thursday to six former board members or employees of the Holmes County School District, totaling more than $200,000.
The school district was taken over by the Mississippi Department of Education in August 2021 following a nearly 400-page audit that found the district in violation of 81% of accreditation standards. The allegations included a dysfunctional school board and administration, improper spending, inaccurate record keeping and unlicensed teachers in the classroom.
The demand letters were issued to:
- James Henderson (former superintendent) – $90,677.18
- Cheryl Peoples (former chief financial officer) – $46,937.68
- Louise Winters (former school board president) –13,523.90
- April Jones (former school board member) – $13,523.89
- William Elder Dean Jr. (former school board member) – $13,523.89
- Anthony Anderson (former school board member) – $24,623.90
The auditor’s office published a list of “notable findings” that led to the issuance of these demand letters, which included a party to celebrate the passage of a bond issue that Holmes County voters ultimately rejected, payments in excess of the superintendent’s approved salary, payments made to companies owned by the superintendent’s relatives, and credit card transitions without proper documentation.
“We are demanding this money back on behalf of the students and taxpayers of Holmes County who deserve to have their money spent in the way that the law requires,” White said in a press release.
The former superintendent and former school board president could not be reached for comment.