GISD official fired for misuse of funds

FLINT TWP. — Beverly Knox-Pipes, a top administrator for 16 years at the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD), was fired last week by the Board of Education for alleged misuse of public funds totaling about $87,521.35 and other misconduct allegedly connected with a 10- year extra-marital affair with her supervisor, former GISD Superintendent Thomas Svitkovich.

The board based its action on an Aug. 10 report from Superintendent Lisa A. Hagel documenting charges against Knox-Pipes, who was assistant superintendent for technology and media services, that include “a pattern of inappropriate and unprofessional conduct constituting moral turpitude and reasonable cause for termination”; and also a callous disregard of applicable rules constituting abuse of position and/or insubordination.

Hagel’s report was based on findings from an extensive forensic audit conducted by Plante Moran, a leading certified public accounting firm.

An itemized accounting of the charges reported $66,714.42 for using public funds for travel expenses; about $17,482.66; for “deceitful use” of cell phones and equipment; and $3,324.27 for conversion of GISD equipment for personal use.

Details for the alleged misuse of public funds for travel allege that Knox-Pipes submitted and received duplicate travel expense reimbursements, extended her stays beyond the end of conferences she attended and used public funds for extended trips for personal purposes.

The charges also claim that Knox-Pipes attended multiple conferences that were not approved; used Svitkovich’s electronic signature for reimbursement of travel expenses and amassed travel costs that “far exceeded” that of other top level GISD administrators.

Further “misuse of funds” charges accuse Knox-Pipes of providing, without authorization, a paid cell phone to Svitkovich, who retired in August 2010, in order to maintain contact with him for “furtherance of her approximate decade-long affair” with him. According to the report, phone records show more than 11,000 minutes and 2,800 calls between Knox-Pipes and Svitkovich over a 14-month period. More than 7,000 of those minutes allegedly were after Knox- Pipes work hours.

Knox-Pipes is also accused of saying she was on vacation to attend a wedding when she actually accepted hotel and airfare gifts from a vendor for a trip to Las Vegas and falsifying travel documentation.

Among a list of alleged administrative misdeeds, Knox-Pipes converted GISD equipment for personal use including a home desktop computer, iPad and laptops. The desk computer was returned, when requested, but had been “professionally wiped clean,” according to the report.

In its resolution for termination, the GISD board stated that any one of the two charges against Knox-Pipes were enough to warrant firing her. The termination was effective immediately.

Svitkovich, who also was Carman- Ainsworth superintendent from 1992 to 1997, now works as an executive for an educational alliance in Oakland County. He was not accused of any of the charges leveled against Knox-Pipes.

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