State Senator Steve Oelrich is calling for a grand jury investigation into the Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Sen. Oelrich, R-Gainesville, is the the leader of the state Senate higher education committee. He said a state audit of the school showed signs of wrongdoings.
“It was, quite frankly, extremely negative,” Oelrich said.
As far as the school, he said the taxpayers have taken a “beating,” and there should be a responsible party or parties to “answer up.”
The audit questioned President Steve Wallace’s contract, which moved almost 100 days of unused sick days into his vacation, making it money he could be paid if left. The audit deemed the move illegal, and Wallace repaid the money.
“There seems to be a series and a trend of wrongdoings at the Florida State college,” Oelrich said.
Sen. Oelrich says he can't imagine what happened to the school's board to allow the questionable activities to go on.
“They either did not know about it – which would probably be a violation of the law. Or if they did know about it, why was no action taken prior to this time?”
His friend and college, State Senator John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, had not seen the independent review of the school done by MGT of America when he talked to WOKV.
Still, he doesn’t believe a grand jury investigation is needed at this point.
“I’d hate to see something unnecessary happen to the college that could be addressed at this level that’s being addressed at by the board,” Thrasher said.
He thinks the board has a “handle on it,” and said Chairman Jim McCollum is doing a “great job.”
“I think the management report is very well-prepared and done. And I think if they will follow up on their recommendations, I think we’ll get a lot of this behind us.”
Thrasher said he hasn’t heard anybody suggest that the school’s wrongdoings rose to the level of criminal activity.
He said he was at the committee meeting last year when the audit was presented.
“It was basically the beginning of concerns that were raised, but they were really related to management issues as opposed to any type of criminal activity.”