This story first appeared online and is a follow up/updated version of the original post
Johnson County Schools transportation supervisor indicted on theft charge.
By Tamas Mondovics
A joint investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has led to the indictment of the Johnson County Board of Education Transportation Supervisor.
TBI reported that Johnson County Board of Education Transportation Supervisor Barry Lawrence Bishop, 57, had been charged with theft over $10,000.
The news of Bishop’s arrest, which was reported by The Tomahawk’s home page and Facebook and included several adjustments as the story developed prompted a sizable response from county residents expressing their dismay over the incident and its reflection on Johnson County Schools as well as its director, Mischelle Simcox.
According to TBI, in May 2018, at the request of 1st District Attorney General Ken Baldwin, Special Agents began investigating allegations of theft involving Bishop.
During the investigation, TBI agents developed information that between January 2015 and May 2017, Bishop used his position as the transportation supervisor for the school system to perform skills testing for commercial driver’s license applicants.
The investigation revealed that Bishop collected nearly $50,000 in fees associated with the testing but failed to give the funds to the Johnson County Trustee.
In response, to the incident Simcox stated:
“Johnson County Schools learned of Mr. Barry Bishop’s arrest when he was taken into custody on January 3, 2019. The school system was later told that Mr.Bishop’s theft charge stemmed from a joint investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. Johnson County Schools has and always will remain transparent with the Comptroller’s Office, and the school system will certainly cooperate in any way with the authorities concerning this matter.”
The Johnson County Grand Jury returned an indictment this week charging Bishop with one count of theft over $10,000. Bishop was arrested and booked into the Johnson County Jail on a $15,000 bond.
Unfortunately, Bishop’s arrest was only a continuation of troubled times for JC Schools due to questionable conduct on the part of its staff including the transportation supervisor.
In an early December 2018 report, the comptroller reported the results of an investigation of selected records of the Johnson County School Department for the period May 1, 2017, through July 31, 2017.
The report revealed that some school department employees used assets owned by the department for private purposes and that management allowed employees at the school department’s transportation garage to use the facility to work on their personal vehicles and other vehicles for personal gain.
The comptroller said that based on interviews, employees performed maintenance on their vehicles after normal working hours with parts and supplies purportedly purchased with their personal funds. School department employees informed the comptroller that management allowed them to use school department vehicles, machinery, and tools for personal use.
Some former and current department employees admitted using department-owned lawnmowers and tools for personal use, the report said.
In one instance, the school transportation supervisor had a school department employee deliver a load of old shingles from the supervisor’s home to the county transfer station using a department-owned dump truck, during regular working hours, the report said.
The investigation showed that Bishop has borrowed the department’s dump truck over the weekend for personal use while having his home roof repaired, but said that “the employee needed the dump truck the following Monday morning to retrieve a load of rock for a bus turnaround, and he had the employee dump the shingles at the transfer station while en route to the rock quarry.”
The comptroller recommended that school department management should not allow, and department employees should not use department assets for private purposes.
In response to the report, and to bring its policies in harmony with the state recommendations, Simcox stated, “Johnson County School System will be updating our school board policy 3.301 (Use of Equipment and Supplies) to the recommendations found in our finding.”
Simcox emphasized that the information will be
shared with all employees, especially those in maintenance.
“We will stress that school employees are not allowed to use school equipment for private purposes,” she said.
For more information about Johnson County Schools please visit www.jocoed.net.