ASHLAND • School board members and board attorney Lori Shaw refused to comment on whether Benton County superintendent Dr. LaKimberly Gallager-Hobson was relieved of her duties at a board meeting last month. Shaw stated that due to procedural matters, she was not at liberty to elaborate on the situation at this time.
However, it has been confirmed that assistant superintendent Pam Gray has been named interim superintendent of education for the district.
Gallager-Hobson is set to have a hearing before the school board on Monday, Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. The regular monthly school board meeting will be later that day.
Shaw did have this to say concerning matters in the Benton County School District:
“It is no secret to anyone who has an interest in the Benton County School District that the last several months have been surrounded by controversy and speculation. Many rumors have circulated throughout the community regarding allegations of misconduct and/or misappropriation of funds at the Benton County School’s Central Office. There have been several fruitless remarks made and/or published about the School Board and staff; however, there is one corroborated fact: The State Auditor’s Office conducted a thorough investigation of this matter and ultimately issued its findings earlier this month (August).
“Any and all action taken and decisions made on behalf of the Benton County School Board subsequent to the investigative findings have been made with the objective of ensuring that our children’s best interests are met and that they receive the best education possible. It is the School Board’s job to address these issues in a professional and objective manner in accordance with the law—and that is just what the Benton County School Board has done.”
In August, the office of State Auditor Shad White demanded that Gallager-Hobson repay about $34,574, an amount that includes the alleged overpayments, interest and investigative fees.
Gallager-Hobson denied intentional wrongdoing and said she plans to repay every penny of any overpayment. She believes she has done nothing wrong and has been misled by members of the school board.
“I’m being forced to pay the price of their decisions,” Gallager-Hobson said regarding the audit.
Shaw went on to say, “I want assure the community that the Board is working diligently to preserve integrity and to ensure that Benton County has the type of school system that our community and children deserve.”