Superintendent: Lufkin ISD contractor runs off with playground payment
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The Lufkin ISD superintendent reveals that an employee of the company that was contracted to build a special needs playground embezzled the funds paid by the school district.
In a special meeting of the LISD board, Superintendent Lynn Torres shared that the federal grant funds obtained to build a special needs playground had been stolen by an employee of the company the district contracted.
LISD obtained federal grant funds to build a special needs playground at the Anderson Elementary and Herty Primary campuses, and contracted a company called PTI Sports and Recreation to build that playground. PTI subcontracted another company for the playground’s construction before the funds were embezzled by a PTI employee.
LISD contacted PTI and the subcontractor about the playground and the deadline to spend the grant funds at which point they were informed about the situation.
Torres presented three agenda items regarding the situation, one to terminate the existing contract with PTI, one to award a new bid to build the playground to another company, and one to pursue legal action against PTI for breach of contract and conversion of funds.
“We do know they’re probably going to declare bankruptcy in the middle of this,” said Torres, “because as said the officer has left the country I believe.”
The board feels they have an obligation to try to recover the stolen funds, Torres saying, “Neither do we feel like we can sit back and say, it’s fine that you did this.”
Torres says the grant was “somewhere around $357k.” LISD had already payed $164k to PTI for the playground’s construction. The subcontractor PTI hired for the playground did not receive any payment and was reportedly ready to start construction.
“We’re going to stand by our principle and go after them,” said Torres.
LISD acknowledged additional funds will have to be procured to construct the playground but no option for where to find those funds was given.
One board member expressed interest in notifying and involving the federal government in this case.
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