OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma County District Attorney has filed four charges, three of which are felonies, against a former Seeworth Academy director.
The Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office completed a report detailing an audit of Justice Alma Seeworth Academy on November 16, 2021.
Based on the findings of that audit and according to a probable cause affidavit, Janet Gail Grigg (also known as Janet Gail Musick) misappropriated approximately $250,000 of public school funds over the course of more than a decade.
Grigg served as the charter school’s Superintendent/Director for nearly two decades.
“This is yet another example where parents, students and Oklahoma taxpayers are failed by a less-than-fully-engaged school board and loose state laws regarding charter schools. A lack of structure and accountability in state law has allowed for this apparent fraud Charter school boards aren’t even currently required to undergo training for their fiduciary roles,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told KFOR in November.
The law has not changed regarding training for brick-and-mortar charter schools.
Training requirements were added a few years ago for virtual charter schools but not for traditional charter schools, according to the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Although the school was authorized by Oklahoma City Public Schools, “Janet Grigg was not an employee of OKCPS. She was the superintendent of Seeworth Academy. Seeworth Academy’s charter board hired and employed Janet Grigg,” said OKCPS’s Media Relations Manager, Crystal Raymond.
Following the report, SAI referred the case to Oklahoma County District Attorney (OCDA), David Prater for further investigation into possible criminal charges.
During the follow-up investigation, it was determined Grigg was using two main “improper” methods of obtaining school funds for personal use.
The first method was through and from the Seeworth Academy “corporate account.”
Grigg allegedly opened that account with her own money, however, the corporate account bears the Seeworth Academy name and was opened under the same tax ID number as the school’s general fund account.
The affidavit reports multiple board members were listed as signers on the account.
The account was co-mingled with money obtained from the school’s general fund and deposits were made into the account from various sources including sporting events and reimbursements for the school.
OCDA’s Office Investigator, Phillips Hall wrote in the report, “Grigg used this ‘corporate account’ as a personal spending account utilizing a debit card and checks as means of purchasing goods, services, and writing herself checks on the account to include withdrawing cash from ATM’s at local casinos totaling more than $4,500 and spending over $9,950 on purchases from home shopping retailers over a period of several years.”
Purchases from that corporate account were not able to be verified as “board approved.”
The other method investigators say Grigg used to illegally obtain public school funds was through a merit-based monetary bonus system.
The system was meant for the school’s staff members (other than Grigg).
Through this system, the Seeworth Academy school board gave Grigg a lump sum of funds with the understanding she would pay bonuses to school staff based on their job performance, attendance record, etc.
Instead, Grigg is said to have taken a large percentage for herself and whatever was left would be split amongst other staff members.
From 2014-2019, Grigg fraudulently awarded herself 31 bonuses totaling $210,751.
An example provided in the affidavit details Grigg taking money from staff bonuses in 2014 in which the board allocated $12,125 for that.
Of that, Hall stated Grigg paid herself $7,000 of that amount (57%) and left the rest for staff.
The lowest paid out staff bonus was $25 and the highest was $500.
Another example in the affidavit shows that again in 2014, Grigg paid out a lump sum of $14,250 in staff bonuses, but only $4,250 was split among her co-workers.
Grigg allegedly took $10,000 (70%) for herself.
“This trend of siphoning unauthorized payments from the school’s general fund and spending from the corporate account continued until Grigg was terminated from her position in 2019,” said Hall.
Hall also said Grigg underreported her “actual” earnings to the State Department of Education as required by law for several years.
In her last full year at the school, she made $201,294, but underreported her income by $41,453.
“Evidence of these illegal financial transactions were confirmed in banking records obtained from the bank accounts of Seeworth Academy and from the personal banking account of Grigg as well as transaction records from retailers,” added Hall.
On March 8, the OCDA executed a search warrant at Grigg’s residence located in Oklahoma City after receiving information about possible stolen Seeworth Academy computers and official documents that likely would be located there.
Investigators seized a “large box” of official documents pertaining to Seeworth Academy including financial records and personnel information.
Multiple computers/electronic devices belonging to the school were also seized.
“I observed several documents of interest located on their ‘desktop’ locations that had gone missing or were otherwise destroyed,” said Hall.
There was a 2007 GMC Yukon also found in Grigg’s driveway eight months after her termination from the school.
“OKCPS had no knowledge of the vehicle or its purchase by the charter school as it was purchased by the charter school with charter school funds. When the Seeworth Academy was set to close, OKCPS requested that all property and assets be transferred upon the school’s closure per state law as all assets go to the authorizer. When that transfer was not granted by Seeworth Academy leadership, OKCPS sought and obtained a court order to retrieve property which was to lawfully transfer to the authorizer. It was later discovered that this vehicle was purchased with charter school funds and that Janet Grigg had possession of the vehicle despite the school’s closure. Upon that discovery, OKCPS repossessed the vehicle.”Crystal Raymond, Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Media Relations Manager
The offenses Hall documented as “committed/anticipated charges” are:
- Embezzlement by State Officer or Employee
- Grand Larceny
- Unlawful Proceeds Derived from Unlawful Activity
- Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle
- Theft of Records by a Custodian
- Offering False Records for Recordation
- Willful Neglect by a State Officer
Prater officially filed charges against Grigg Tuesday for:
- Embezzlement of Public Money, felony
- Embezzlement of Public Property, felony
- Embezzlement of Public Property, felony
- Concealing Stolen Property
In a statement to KFOR, Prater said, “The investigation is ongoing to determine if others have criminal liability in this alleged theft of money intended to help educate some of our most vulnerable children.”
KFOR asked OKCPS how charter schools are regulated under the school district.
“The role of a school district who sponsors a charter school is not to regulate how they operate or to monitor their finances. This is vastly different from how we operate and monitor our own district and school finances,” explained Raymond.
Seeworth Academy’s school board voted to close its doors June 30, 2019 because of their failure to comply with the State Department of Education.
“On May 2, 2019, the OSDE sent a letter to Superintendent Grigg evidencing Seeworth’s failure to properly account for taxpayer funds, failure to properly maintain accounting records, failure to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and non-compliance with Oklahoma’s special education policies,” the State Department of Education told KFOR.
The letter demanded the school turn over a litany of records and noted that failure to do so could result in a determination of non-compliance, loss of accreditation and withholding of state and federal funds.
In 2019, the OSDE recommended the State Board of Education request an investigative audit and the board approved that request. The State Auditor and Inspector’s office then conducted the audit of Seeworth.
News 4 was unable to find Grigg on social media, but did manage to find her husband.
We reached out for comment, but have not received a response.