New Caruthersville director of school services hired, was recent - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New Caruthersville director of school services hired, was recently fired at other district

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KFVS) -

The Caruthersville School District recently hired a new director of school services.

Fred Czerwonka was the superintendent of the St. Joseph School District. That is, until he was fired following a state audit report revealed questionable expenditures at the district.

Czerwonka has been in the news in northwest Missouri for more than a year for allegedly mishandling funds at St. Joseph Schools while he was the superintendent.

The Caruthersville School District superintendent said, regardless, she believes they made the right decision by hiring the best applicant for the job, but some parents and community members aren't so sure.

“Makes you wonder,” Courtney Barnett said.

Barnett attended Caruthersville herself and now has nieces and nephews in the district. She said she wants the best for the school, but doesn't think Czerwonka is a good fit.

“If they did it at a different district, why wouldn't they do it here?” Barnett said.

A state audit reveals no-bid contracts, nepotism and a string of Missouri Sunshine Act violations. It also shows that the St. Joseph School District gave out $3.8 million in stipends last school year, most of which were unapproved and undocumented. This was all while Czerwonka was in charge.

“Our community can't afford that much money, to be honest,” Barnett said.

Stephanie Johnson has two children in the district, she said she is leery of the decision, but ultimately trusts the judgement of district leaders.

“He was accused of mishandling the money, so there was a lot of that going on. So, hopefully Ms. J.J. Bullington knew what she was doing when she hired this man,” Johnson said.

Superintendent J.J. Bullington didn't go into details about the allegations, but assures parents and community members the district took applicants, called references and ran a background check before making it's decision.

However, another parent who didn't want to be identified said that's not enough.

“He needs to be fired without pay and don't return to our school,” the parent said.

According to published reports, the FBI and a federal grand jury have been investigating Czerwonka's actions since April of 2014.

Parents in town say they just want the best school for their children.

“The school district hired him in, so hopefully they won't regret that,” Johnson said.

Superintendent Bullington says Czerwonka's first official day on the job is July 1.

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