BELLBROOK — (11-4-21) Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Doug Cozad (47) and Bellbrook School Board President David Carpenter, Board Member Virginia Slouffman, and former school board members Elizabeth Betz and Kathy Kingston each are facing counts of illegal transaction of public funds and dereliction of duty according to Xenia Municipal Court records.
Charges include misusing government funds to promote an operating levy for the school district. The charges are first and second degree misdemeanors.
Court records –
“In or around March-April 2019, Douglas A. Cozad, the superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools, authorized the mailing of a newsletter to the public from the School District. Public funds were used to pay for the newsletter which prominently stated (in part) ‘An investment in our schools is an investment in our community’ adjacent to an announcement that the operating levy was on the May 7, 2019 ballot.”
“Cozad was responsible for the language in the newsletter and authorized the payment of government funds for its printing and mailing,”
The charges also accused Cozad, Betz, Carpenter, Kingston and Slouffman of authorizing the payment of public funds for a mailer that
“included a picture of the Board with the title ‘Continue the Excellence with the passage of Issue 4!’” The mailer also included another postcard titled “Issue #4 Important!” and ended stating “Remember to Vote on May 7th! Polls open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Paid for by Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local School.
The total for both the postcard and mailer totaled $5,214.37, according to court records.
After the May 7, 2019 operating levy failed to pass the district hired Allerton Hill Consulting was hired and that led to the Ohio Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit investigating that move.
“upon information and belief, Alllerton Hill Consulting was hired to assist the School District in public communication and messaging for the purpose of reviving and passing another proposed operating levy”.
“Cozad approved and authorized the payment of public funds totaling $37,500 to Allerton Hill Consulting.”
The school district also engaged in a phone survey that cost $15,000.
“upon information and belief” was “designed for the purpose of reviving and passing another proposed operating levy.”
“Cozad reviewed and approved the survey questions as well as the payment of public funds totaling $15,000 to Fallon Research and Communication Inc..”
Arraignment is set for November 17th.