Leon County Schools Served Subpoena by FBI

| October 30, 2014
Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons - WCTV Photo

Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons – WCTV Photo

TALLAHASSEE — Reports from Tallahassee state that Leon County Schools was served a subpoena from the FBI related to construction-related documents and information stemming from an investigation concerning potential misuse of board funds.  This has been a result of many accusations of financial misappropriations and failure to follow due process at the board office with several employees asking for Whistle Blower protection.

Over the past several months, four Leon County Schools employees have asked for whistle blower protection. One of those workers has also filed a lawsuit.

Patricia Nichols told WCTV that it started when she was told to meet with two employees investigating rumors involving Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons. She was asked to discuss construction contract issues and other rumors circulating at the Board office with the employees.

The report says Nichols told investigators she heard the district purchased a $30,000 boat from Bellflower Marine without proper authorization.  However, owner Bennie Bellflower told WCTV he closed up shop in 2004 and has no recollection of selling a boat to the district or Superintendent Pons.

There were also rumors regarding the Superintendent and drunk driving.  Nichols was asked by investigators, according to the report, if she started the drunk driver rumor about Pons.  Nichols told investigators another school employee had been buying drinks for the superintendent at Hurricanes.  She further stated, in the report, that Pons was seen paying for damages to his school district car out of his own pocket so it wouldn’t be on the district records.  She couldn’t say if the two incidents were related.

WCTV also reported that Nichols told investigators top administrators were driving large district trucks as their own personal vehicles.

A few weeks after her rumors interview, reports state Nichols was told by Assistant Superintendent Barbara Wills that her position was being eliminated.  Wills told Nichols she could either take a transfer with a raise or a severance package.

The lawsuit claims after Nichols then filed a whistleblower claim, the offer was rescinded.

But apparently, there seems to be even more controversy surrounding this case.  The report also stated that earlier this year, Pons addressed another employee’s whistleblower complaint.

A statement from the school district claims the lawsuit is misleading, contains false information and will be vigorously defended.

Three other employees, besides Nichols, have also asked for protection under the Whistle Blower act.  Sandra Davis, Rocky Hanna and Woody Hildebrandt have asked for whistleblower protection.

Davis sent a letter dated June 4th to Superintendent Pons asking for that protection.  The reports states that in the letter, Davis believes there have been state and federal law violations regarding construction contracts.  Davis has worked with the Division of Facilities, Construction and Maintenance and has been with the school system for over 20 years.

Hanna and Hildebrandt also had previously asked Pons for whistleblower protection based on similar accusations.  Hildebrandt, the former divisional director of construction and facilities, sent a letter to Superintendent Jackie Pons also claiming tax dollars have been misspent.  Hildebrandt, who’s currently Lively Tech’s principal, says he first reported these matters to Pons in December, 2011 and then again in September and December, 2013.  Reports state he claims competitive bidding laws on projects at several elementary schools may have been violated.

Pons stated at the time that Hildebrandt gave him a notebook filled with accusations about school construction projects and other issues last December.  Hildebrandt served as construction and facilities director for two and a half years until last September when he was removed from that post shortly after he claims he brought concerns about misspent tax dollars to Pons attention for a second time.


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