Former AJUSD superintendent Wilson indicted on felony charges

Then-Superintendent Dr. Chad Wilson at an Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

The Arizona State Grand Jury accuses former Apache Junction Unified School District Superintendent Chad Wilson of theft, a class 2 felony, and three counts of misuse of public monies, class 4 felonies, according to an Arizona Superior Court indictment.

He is accused of misusing public funds, including authorizing performance pay (May 1, 2012-May 31, 2016), professional-development instruction compensation (Nov. 1, 2015-April 30, 2017) and paying for athletic-event attendance (Sept. 1, 2015-July 31, 2016) — all for district administrators — without AJUSD Governing Board approval, according to the indictment.

The count of theft states that on or between May 1, 2012 and April 30, 2017, Mr. Wilson “knowingly converted for an unauthorized term or use services or property of another entrusted to the defendant or placed in the defendant’s possession for a limited, authorized term or use, said property having a value of $25,000 or more.”

Dr. Wilson was AJUSD superintendent from 2009 to 2017, His resignation was approved Dec. 13, 2016, and an AJUSD settlement agreement required him to work until June 30, 2017.

He was hired as an assistant superintendent at the East Valley Institute of Technology. In January 2019 he was promoted to interim superintendent and in July as superintendent.

EVIT is a public Career Technical Education District, providing career training to high school students and adults in 11 East Valley communities, including Apache Junction, Mesa and Queen Creek.

EVIT officials declined to comment on Dr. Wilson’s indictment.

“EVIT has no comment at this time,” CeCe Todd, EVIT public information officer, said in an e-mail.

AJUSD officials received an Arizona Auditor General financial investigation report on Sept. 10, Sally Marks, the school district’s public information officer, said.

“The district received the Auditor General’s report several hours ago. As is evident from the report, the investigation was initiated in April 2017,” she said in an e-mail.

“Throughout the course of the investigation, district personnel fully cooperated and collaborated with the investigator. As well, prior to the initiation of the investigation, the Governing Board and the recently appointed superintendent pro-actively took action to remediate improper practices that had occurred,” she said.

The district has reviewed the Auditor General’s recommendations set forth in the report and can share the following information by way of response, Ms. Marks said.:

  • Since April 2017, the administration put controls in place to ensure that the Governing Board approves all employee compensation and benefits.
  • Since April 2017, administrators stopped receiving additional compensation for attending professional development instruction and attending athletic events.
  • In addition to its annual audit, the district is scheduling internal audits of payroll, benefits, extra-duty compensation and random records to check for accuracy and compliance. The current administration is committed to strict compliance with legal requirements.
  • The district is implementing protocols to ensure that no individual can circumvent them.
  • The district will work diligently to ensure all deficiencies are disclosed and that the district operates in an ethical and fiscally prudent manner.
  • As recommended by the Auditor General’s Office, the district is in the process of modifying documents supporting employee compensation, such as schedules of employee salaries and benefits and personnel action request forms to include the board meeting approval date.

“Working in a transparent, ethical and honest manner and serving as good stewards of public funds is of the utmost importance to the current administration and Governing Board of Apache Junction Unified School District. We are glad this chapter has been resolved so we can move forward with being the best educators for the students of our district,” according to the AJUSD statement said.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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