VCSC Board breaks silence on FBI investigation in on-camera statement

VCSC Board President Paul Lockhart (WTHI Photo)
VCSC Board President Paul Lockhart (WTHI Photo)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Since the first FBI raid in June, many had questions regarding the transparency of the Vigo County School Board of Trustees.

Wednesday night, the board broke their silence regarding the FBI investigation. The board issued an on-camera statement and took questions from the media following the FBI’s second visit and the arrest of two former Vigo County School Corporation employees.

“Effective today, our director of human resources has terminated the employment of Franklin V. Fennell and Frank Shahadey,” said Board President Paul Lockhart, “Although we’re saddened to have any employee arrested for criminal acts, and we do believe in due process, we felt it was imperative that we review the information that we have and then for the director of human resources to make his recommendation.”

Lockhart was joined by school board members in front of the school corporation headquarters on Wabash Avenue. However, Superintendent Danny Tanoos was not present.

Lockhart addresssed Tanoos’ absence saying he would return to the office on Thursday and that they had been in contact with Tanoos numerous times while he had been in meetings throughout the day. Those meetings, Lockhart says, were not related to Wednesday’s FBI events. He also commented on whether or not Tanoos was involved in the FBI investigation. He also confirmed that Tanoos is still the superintendent of the school corporation.

“He’s not been accused of anything in the information that we received,” Lockhart said.

Court documents released Wednesday accuse Fennell and Shahadey of their involvement in a kickback scheme between themselves and a vendor. They are facing federal charges.

During his statements, Lockhart assured the public that the school board was not aware of anything beforehand.

“As we’ve spoken about, a number of times, over the last five months now,” he said, “We’ve expressed our frustrations of not having information, this is really the first information that we’ve received that the board could consider. We’re glad to have the information, but again, we’re saddened by what it seems to point to.”

As far as Fennell and Shahadey’s jobs, Lockhart says they are being handled by other employees. Fennell served as the school corporation’s facilities director. Shahadey was in charge of all of the school liason officers in the county.

“In the case of our building and support, our Assistant Director Rick Long is taking care of those duties,” he said, “For the other, we have several security officers and Mr. Azar is coordinating that.”

The school board will hold a special meeting on Friday, November 4th at 5 p.m. at the administration building. That’s where they will consider to affirm the terminations.