The State Auditor’s office has announced that several individuals associated with the Holmes County Consolidated School District have been ordered to pay civil demands. 

Former Superintendent James Henderson as well as former Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Peoples, and four former school board members (Anthony Anderson, Louise Winters, April Jones, and Elder Dean) were issued demand letters resulting from audit findings released in December 2020.

The demands are as follows:

James Henderson – $90,677.18

William Elder Dean Jr. – $13,523.89

Cheryl Peoples – $46,937.68

Louise Winters –13,523.90

April Jones – $13,523.89

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 Auditor Shad 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.”

 

The audit found that 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.” It also showed that the former superintendent was paid $170,000 salary, despite the school board voting to pay him $160,000. He was also paid for relocation expenses in the excess of the amount allowed by state law.

Payments were made to companies that were owned by relatives of the former superintendent with a total amount of $14,000.

The audit also showed a district credit card that was used without authorization to make 22 purchases without appropriate documentation for a total of over $12,000.

A surety bond covers each individual. A surety bond is similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers in the event that public money is misspent. Each individual will remain liable for the full amounts of their demands.