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Auditor issues demand letters to former Holmes Co. School District officials

State Auditor Shad White. Photo by News Mississippi

Demand letters for tens of thousands of dollars were issued to numerous individuals in the Holmes County Consolidated School District for several findings discovered by State Auditor Shad White in December 2020.

The letters were issued to the following individuals:

  • Former Superintendent, James Henderson – $90,677.18
  • Former Chief Financial Officer, Cheryl Peoples – $46,937.68
  • Former School Board Member, William Elder Dean Jr. – $13,523.89
  • Former School Board Member, Louise Winters –13,523.90
  • Former School Board Member, April Jones – $13,523.89
  • Former School Board Member, Anthony Anderson – $24,623.90

“I appreciate the joint efforts of both the audit team and the investigative team who worked on this case in my office,” said White. “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.”

Notable findings from the audit that led to an investigation include:

  • The district paid over $4,200 for a party to celebrate the passage of a bond issue Holmes County voters ultimately rejected. The event was described as a “parent’s night out” and “adults only,” and attendees were encouraged to bring “your preferred beverage.”
  • The former superintendent was paid a $170,000 salary despite the school board only voting to pay him a $160,000 salary. The district also paid the former superintendent for relocation expenses in excess of the amount allowed by state law.
  • Auditors identified payments made to companies owned by the former superintendent’s relatives. These purchases totaled $14,000.
  • A district credit card was used without school board authorization. Auditors identified 22 purchases made with this card without appropriate documentation. These transactions totaled over $12,000.

Each individual will remain liable for the full amounts of their demands.

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