HARRISVILLE -A former Ritchie County Schools superintendent who admitted to misleading an ethics investigation agreed to a public reprimand and $7,500 fine.
Former school superintendent Bob Daquilante recently reached a conciliation agreement with the West Virginia Ethics Commission over allegations he used his position to tailor the position for the county's athletic director to hire a friend and associate.
In the agreement, Daquilante admitted he was "not completely forthcoming" to the ethics commission. He stated he was concerned innocent people would be adversely affected by his prior actions.
Attorney John Ellem, Daquilante's legal counsel, said there was no specific admission Daquilante violated provisions of the ethics act.
"It was always his intention to do the right thing," Ellem said. "And he thought he did the right thing. There may have been some record-keeping issues down the line."
In the findings of fact the state ethics commission found Daquilante rewrote the qualifications of the athletic director's job so that a teaching certificate was not required. Patrick Allen was hired as athletics director by the Ritchie County Board of Education in June 2009.
Only one other person applied for the job.
According to the commission's finding of facts, Daquilante appointed then-athletic director Steve Lewis and middle school principal Michael Dotson to the interview committee and repeatedly told each to recommend Allen for the position. The findings also determined Daquilante instructed a subordinate employee of the board of education in the payroll office to fix Allen's salary at $50,000.
Roane County, like Ritchie, has only one middle and high school, but does not have a full-time athletics director. The AD post in Roane County is a part-time job that pays only $5,000 a year. It is handled by a teacher.
Neither Parkersburg nor Parkersburg South employ full-time athletic directors. Both posts are handled by assistant principals with master's degrees and numerous years of teaching experience.
"They are full-time assistant principals with the responsibility of the athletic programs," said Bob Harris, assistant superintendent for Wood County schools
Allen is the full-time athletic director in Ritchie County. He does not teach.
Ritchie County Schools Superintendent Ed Toman said Allen met all the qualifications needed for the job posting. Toman said board members sought a more business-centered position.
The commission acknowledged the superintendent has discretion in setting salaries for certain board employees, including directors.
The ethics commission findings also state during its investigation Daquilante instructed subordinates to give misleading information to the commission. The ethics commission asserts Daquilante "knowingly provided documentation to the ethics commission that was created after the filing of the complaint ..."
Daquilante also ordered his subordinates "to get together to get their stories straight."
As a result of Daquilante's direction on May 6, 2010, pursuant to a subpoena, Dotson, Allen and Lewis testified before the ethics commission regarding the complaint.
"During their testimony, in an effort to save their jobs, Allen and Dotson were not completely forthcoming to the commission; they subsequently corrected their incorrect testimony under oath," the commission's finding of facts states.
Ellem said under the state ethics act, intent is not always relevant.
"Just because all the I's weren't dotted and the T's crossed, there was no indications of deception," Ellem said. "We decided to go ahead and put the matter to rest for everyone's benefit."
Daquilante also acknowledged two volunteers football coaches (Tom Cowan and Lou Nocida) be compensated from the athletic department funds characterized as mileage reimbursement without the authorization or approval of the board of education.
The commission did not dispute the volunteers provided valuable service to programs, but noted no others were provided such reimbursement from the athletic department for rendering volunteer services.
The complaint was filed in September 2009 by Kathy McKinney, a county resident. McKinney ran for a seat on the county board of education in 2010 and was defeated in the primary, finishing fifth among five candidates for three seats.
Neither McKinney, nor Ritchie County Board of Education President Carolyn Bowie, returned messages seeking comment.
Daquilante had a hearing set last month, but it was continued based on the two parties reaching a conciliation agreement. He signed the agreement Nov. 25. The commission approved it Dec. 6. Daquilante, who is long-since retired and now lives out of state, agreed to a public reprimand and a fine of no more than $7,500.
Ellem said the whole affair has divided the community.
"When we were presented with the agreement we looked at it hard and considered going through a hearing," he said. "Because of the agreement we were able to come up with the community and Mr. Daquilante can move forward."
Toman was unaware this was an issue in the community. He has served as superintendent for two and half years and noted the matter has never been discussed by the board of education.
He said the issues do not involve the school system or its personnel and no action would be taken.
"That is between Bob Daquilante and the ethics commission," he said. "There is nothing the (county) board of education has received. Nothing I have received."
Ellem said it was Daquilante's belief, Allen was the most qualified person for the job.
"It is his belief (Patrick) Allen - all along - was the most qualified and ultimately the most qualified," Ellem said.
Allen was hired by the board of education, Ellem said.
"And he has done an excellent job on behalf of the Ritchie County students," Ellem said.