Key says public deserves answers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

Messenger Publisher

"How could this happen?"

It’s a question Superintendent John Key said he knows people are asking in the wake of the arrest of a Pike County Board of Education employee on charges of theft.

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"I do think people need to be told what we can tell them without getting into the specifics of the investigation," Key said from the Gulf Coast, where he is attending a state educators’ meeting.

Timothy Dewayne Spivey, 43, was charged Monday with first degree theft. The maintenance supervisor, with nearly 20 years experience with the school district, is charged with ordering at least 10 air conditioning units and billing them to the school district, then reselling the units to private individuals and businesses through his business, City Electric Co.

"At this point, we can verify no less than that," Key said of the number of units involved.

Law enforcement officers have indicated the scope of the theft could be larger. "It did go on for years … but until we get the complete, full investigative report we don’t know how many units could be involved."

"I’ve known everybody so far" who has reported purchasing one of the stolen units, Key said. He does not have one, but he did say at least one individual within the school has purchased the unit.

"So far everyone who has purchased these, as far as we can tell so far, did so with absolutely no knowledge of where it came from," he said.

Both Spivey and his brother, Johndi Spivey, have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending outcome of the investigation. Both are maintenance employees of the district and both worked with City Electric Company.

Key said Timothy Spivey had authority to order equipment, such as the air conditioning units in question.

"I had to approve the invoices, just as I had to approve teachers’ and administrators’ invoices as well," he said. "But I don’t scrutinize every thumbtack they order

I do question where it’s going and what it’s going for."

With scores of air conditioning units across the district, Key said, "we may order 20 a year because they are extremely old."

And while the district does conduct random audits of equipment and inventory, "we don’t look at air conditioning units and those kinds of things," Key said.

"There’s no way you can keep this from happening," Key said. "If a person wants to do something like this, there’s no way to stop it. (But) you’ll catch it eventually."

The Rev. Herbert Reynolds, chairman of the Pike County Board of Education, said the board members had been advised by the district’s attorney not to comment on the ongoing investigation.

He did say that the board has final approval on all expenditures of the district. The expenditures are approved at monthly board meetings. "It depends on what comes up and how it’s presented," he said. "Sometimes it’s a lot of items and they’re presented on a


Neither Key nor Reynolds would comment on how the district learned of the alleged thefts.

Key said Tuesday that he had contacted the District Attorney last week, on the advise of public examiners. The District Attorney turned the investigation over to the Troy Police Department on Friday.

Timothy Spivey was arrested on Monday.

Key said the school board is scheduled to meet about the issue on Monday.