Maury County Schools facing questions over public relations budg - WSMV Channel 4

Maury County Schools facing questions over public relations budget

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COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -

In late March, as questions were mounting over Maury County school administrators’ handling of the Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas kissing allegations from January, school district spokesperson Kim Doddridge announced she was out of the office for two weeks. Channel 4 has learned she was on vacation in Europe.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Chris Marczak hired public relations specialist and Maury County graduate Mary Beth West to handle media inquiries.

West operates a PR firm out of East Tennessee that specializes in crisis situations.

Channel 4 asked Maury County Public Schools for a copy of their contract with the PR firm. They told us no such contract exists.

Reached by phone Monday morning, West said she hasn’t negotiated a fee with Maury County Public Schools but plans to bill the district for each hour she worked.

Maury County taxpayers told Channel 4 they want to know if administrators sought bids before hiring the public relations firm.

“I don’t like it,” Virginia Andrews said. “I would like to see my tax money spent more responsibly.”

This isn’t the first time the Maury County school administrators have been criticized for their spending habits. Last month, an audit from state comptroller Justin Wilson found deficiencies in budget operations including more than $100,000 of expenditures exceeding appropriations approved by the county commission.

Dr. Marczak told the comptroller he “concurs with the finding and will take the appropriate actions to correct it.”

But he wouldn’t answer Channel 4’s questions about hiring the PR firm last month. Spokesperson Kim Doddridge told us Dr. Marczak declined our request for an interview.

“What was spent and how much was spent, it would be good to know,” Andrews added. “I hope one day we do know as taxpayers.”

Click here to read the Maury County Board of Education chairman’s response.

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