Following discovery of “mismanagement of funds,” Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, Principal Edward Echols has resigned, the school announced Sept. 20.
An audit released by Fulton County Schools shows multiple instances where auditors questioned financial practices at the school and found that Echols used an American Express credit card not issued by the contracting department to purchase personal items. He also used the card for school purchases, according to the audit. The audit did not specify what purchases Echols made. The audit report said Echols did reimburse the school for the items he purchased, but also said the auditor couldn’t be certain if all personal items were reimbursed because Echols did not submit a detailed list of what he was reimbursing to the school.
“An investigation has been initiated regarding the allegation of misuse of the American Express Card at Riverwood High School by the Office of Employee Relations,” the audit report says.
The report said Echols met with the Fulton County Schools Chief Financial Officer to confirm the American Express account was closed.
Samantha Evans, executive director of communications for the school system, said an audit for the 2008-2009 school year found some irregularities. She said the audit found things “were not done according to policy.”
“I wouldn’t say that he stole anything. I would say there was an inappropriate use of … funds,” Evans said. “He mismanaged funds. Was there any loss to the school financially? At this point I don’t see that.”
Dennis Kostulakos, a Fulton school system employee, was named interim principal and will serve in that position during the search for a new principal.
Eric deGroot, a member of the school’s nonprofit foundation, said school officials called an emergency meeting with the booster clubs Sept. 19 to inform them that Echols was resigning and that it had nothing do do with any of the school’s foundation or booster club.
Echols became principal of Riverwood in 2002, having started in Fulton County Schools in 1987 as a math teacher at Roswell High School, according to the school’s website.