Georgia’s educator watchdog agency is investigating former Bibb County school Superintendent Romain Dallemand and the district’s former technology director.
After results of the school system’s latest audit were released, the system conducted its own investigation and forwarded its findings to the state’s Professional Standards Commission. The commission investigates allegations of educator misconduct, among other duties. The state attorney general’s office also received a copy of the findings.
The school system would not release to The Telegraph a copy of its report to the PSC, saying the matter involved a pending investigation.
“As a result of our recent audit, Bibb County School District has filed complaints against Dr. Romain Dallemand and Thomas Tourand with the Professional Standards Commission,” a letter from Randy Howard, the system’s in-house attorney, read in part. “At this time, Bibb County School District cannot provide any further information.”
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The school audit contained nine allegations, contending that Dallemand had repeatedly violated school board policy while he was superintendent by ordering more than $26 million in technology equipment and services without the required, prior approval of the board.
Now, the PSC is investigating allegations against Dallemand and Tourand, the system’s former director of technology. Tourand held the same job for the city of Macon before he retired in 2009. Dallemand subsequently hired him, but he left the school system more than a year ago.
The PSC investigation is based on the audit results as they relate to the educator code of ethics.
The FBI also is investigating possible criminal wrongdoing by Dallemand, according to three sources familiar with the case.
Both a PSC representative and Steve Smith, Bibb’s interim school superintendent, were tight-lipped Friday about the PSC probe.
“I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the investigation being done by the PSC,” Smith said.
He said he had an “ethical obligation” to submit the system’s findings to the PSC. Failure to do so, he said, “could have risked my losing my certification,” he said.
Paul Shaw, director of the PSC’s ethics division, would say only that the commission has an open case on Dallemand and Tourand, much like the 100 or so other complaints it receives from school systems across Georgia each month.
A commission investigator will review documents in the case and interview witnesses -- including Dallemand and Tourand if possible.
“We would certainly want to hear their side of the story,” Shaw said.
The investigator “could find nothing or could find several violations,” he said. “We try to be thorough.”
Tourand said Friday night that he knew nothing about the PSC investigation but added, “I know I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Dallemand, who left the school system 18 months ago after the board bought out his contract for $350,000, was living in Haiti at one point. Atlanta lawyer Michael E. Kramer said Friday that he once represented Dallemand, but he hasn’t in some time.
Should the PSC find against the men, punishment could range from a warning or reprimand to a suspension or revocation of their licenses.
The commission probably wouldn’t hear the case against the men until this fall.
Bibb County audit
The school system audit that’s at the heart of the investigations said that from July to December 2012, Dallemand authorized nine contracts or purchase orders, at least three of which did not involve competitive bidding and most of which did not receive prior board approval.
Two of the orders were for more than $6 million, and two others were for more than $3 million. The audit actually characterized the total value of contracts and purchase orders that didn’t comply with school district policies at more than $51 million, but that figure included such items as “match resources” associated with the Macon Promise Neighborhood initiative. The audit also took issue with the way financial commitments were made to that program. Over the main months in question, Dallemand “authorized, directed and coerced staff to make transactions that were in violation” of board policies, the audit said.
Dallemand was not authorized to obligate the school system for any purchase order above $500,000, and any order above $500,000 also required prior board approval. In some cases, often months later, Dallemand sought and received board approval for several of his actions. The audit listed the cause of the violations as an “apparent reckless disregard by the former Superintendent for existing School District procurement policies established by the Board of Education.”
To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744- 4396.