An investigation launched this week into the handling of administrative stipends and board policy compliance in the Milton School District.

School board members Karen Hall, Mike Pierce and Brian Kvapil and the school district’s legal counsel confirmed the investigation began Tuesday.

Lori Lubinsky, an attorney with the Axley Bryneslon law firm in Madison, is leading the investigation.

This is the first time Lubinsky has worked with the Milton School District, Pierce said.

She is a member of the Wisconsin School Attorneys Association and the Wisconsin School Board Association, according to her profile on the law firm’s website.

In an email to The Gazette on Tuesday night, Shana Lewis, the school district’s legal counsel, said the investigation will look into the following:

  • Whether the manner in which a stipend for Superintendent Tim Schigur was approved violated state law and/or board policy.
  • Whether the manner in which stipends for Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz and IT support employee Michael Gouvion were approved violated state law and/or board policy.
  • Whether the manner in which the records and information related to the stipends were disclosed to board member Brian Kvapil and then to the media violated state law and/or board policy.

The district hopes the investigation will be completed in the next few weeks. Lubinksy will present a report to the board once complete, Lewis said.

EMC Insurance, the district’s liability insurance carrier, will cover costs for the investigation according to district policy, Lewis said.

Lewis has advised board members and district staff not to discuss the investigation with each other or others, she said. Additional information will be provided to the community following the investigation.

The board voted Feb. 11 to hire an outside firm to investigate allegations that $30,500 in stipends were given to district employees without school board approval.

Kvapil informed The Gazette and other media outlets Feb. 8 about stipends given in November to Schigur, Schuetz and Gouvion. Kvapil said they were not approved by the board or allocated in the 2018-19 budget.

Board policy says all payments made outside the budget must be approved by the school board.

Documents provided to The Gazette show board President Tom Westrick signed a recommendation for Schigur to receive $10,500 as a “temporary” pay increase “due to a doctorate earned” by Schigur in May 2018.

Westrick took responsibility for approving Schigur’s stipend at the Feb. 11 board meeting.

Schigur’s contract does not mention bonuses or stipends awarded for degrees earned, according to records obtained by The Gazette through an open records request.

Schigur’s contract runs from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020.

Westrick said in a Feb. 11 statement that current and former board members had discussed compensating Schigur when he earned his doctorate. Schigur earned the degree about six months before Westrick signed off on the stipend, according to documents.

The board has not talked publicly about stipends given to Schuetz and Gouvion.

Neither Schuetz’s nor Gouvion’s contracts mention stipends.

Kvapil expressed concern that district officials did not provide him documents he requested in a timely manner, including administrative contracts and documents on salary increases.

The school district did not receive any open records requests from Jan. 1 to Feb. 10, according to an open records request made by The Gazette.

Kvapil told The Gazette on Tuesday he did not formally file requests for the documents. He emailed Schigur and asked for the documents under the belief that Schigur was the district’s records custodian.

Schuetz is the district’s records custodian.

Kvapil said he intended to file a formal records request as his “next step.” To date, Kvapil said he has received “some” of the records he requested.

Reporter - Milton, Edgerton, Albany, Brodhead, Evansville, Footville, Orfordville, health

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