School District of Lee County has 10 days to correct misuse of $3.9 million

Your child’s school funding is at stake. The School District of Lee County has 10 days to figure out how to deal with an accusation that it misused nearly $4 million.

But tonight, instead of following through on her threat to hire an outside investigator, School Board Member Melisa Giovannelli never even brought it up.

The district has until the end of the month to get the misallocation of taxpayer money straightened out or lose funding for the next school year. We asked Giovannelli why she did not bring up the topic in the meeting. She said she needed to leave and walked out.

Giovannelli sent an email last week, which said: “I will be making a motion to hire an outside law firm to investigate the superintendent.” Her email comes after the Florida Dept. of Education performed an audit and accused the School District of Lee County of misusing $3.9 million.

The CFO said the district has the financial resources to cover the problem. He said to allocate the $3.9 million from its operating funds into its capital funds. But a Lee County substitute teacher we spoke with said that is much easier said than done.

“It seems in education you can’t do that,” Marvin Goetz said. “Everything is..has to be bottle nosed for its specifics. No, you just can’t do it. We wish we could.”

Gwyn Gittens, a school board member, said they already have an outside auditor that is not associated with the district when addressing public comments.

“They are beginning their work in the next few weeks,” Gittens said.

Hours of sitting through the meeting and Giovannelli did not even address her concern after claiming she was going to send a formal letter to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting intervention if the board did not.

The deadline to meet corrective requirements is May 31.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
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