The Union County Board of Education held a closed meeting early Monday “to receive and review the decision from the Union County District Attorney’s Office regarding the investigation into Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis,” according to a statement released by the board after the meeting.
The board adjourned promptly after ending its closed session, and no action was taken.
“This is a personnel matter and no additional details will be shared,” the board’s statement said.
District Attorney Trey Robinson issued a news release late Friday saying that an investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation had found no evidence of criminal acts by Ellis, Chief Technology Officer Tony Burrus and Deputy Superintendent Mike Webb. The three are respectively listed as president, vice president and secretary in corporate papers for a consulting firm called Educatrx. The treasurer is listed as Jason Mooneyham, who served as vice president of public sector sales at Lenovo, which has sold thousands of computers to the school system.
Creating a consulting firm with Mooneyham led to conflict-of-interest allegations against Ellis, Webb and Burrus. School Board Member Kevin Stewart filed an investigatory report in November to begin a criminal investigation. Stewart said later that Chairman John Collins asked him to start the investigation process.
“The SBI investigation was both thorough and comprehensive,” Robinson said in the news release. “There is no evidence that any crimes were committed by Dr. Ellis or the other UCPS employees. Accordingly, I consider this matter concluded.”
Reached over the weekend, before Monday’s meeting, Collins said he knew Ellis, Webb and Burrus would be cleared.
“The three are among our finest employees and all three contribute to making UCPS one of the premier public school systems in the state,” he said. “They are sought after as speakers and presenters at many major educational gatherings. As a county we should be proud to have three such dedicated people serving the educational needs of our students.”
Jane Duckwall is a freelance writer.