YUKON — A former Yukon vocational agriculture teacher said he charged a couple $7,000 for a show calf that cost just $2,750, documents obtained from the school district show.
Jason Bow, who resigned his position as agriculture instructor at the end of the 2010-11 school year, reportedly told a fraud examiner hired by the district that he charged Randy and Debbie Wright more than twice what he paid for the calf in order to cover the costs of livestock that had died.
The FFA program at Yukon Public Schools, which is among the largest in the state, is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation in connection with the incident involving the Wrights, who claim in a lawsuit that they were defrauded by Bow and another district employee.
Martin Solorzano, an OSBI agent working on the case, said the agency expects to submit its final report to local prosecutors in the coming weeks, possibly by the end of February.
In an email dated July 11, 2011, fraud examiner Mark Patzkowski wrote to Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Bill Denton and discussed an interview he'd conducted with Bow, who had resigned from the district at that point.
Patzkowski, an attorney who was hired by the school district in 2011 to look into the Yukon FFA program, wrote in the email that his interview with Bow “went fairly well.”
“He did admit that he took the opportunity to charge Randy and Debbie Wright $7,000 when the calf cost approximately $2,700,” Patzkowski wrote in the email. “He explained that he had two calves die without having anyone purchase these calves.
“He said he had to cover the costs of the dead calves.”
In the email, Patzkowski also discloses that Bow, who had resigned from the district months earlier, still had property in his possession that belonged to the district.
Attempts to reach Bow and Denton to comment on this story were not successful.
The Wrights, whose daughter was a student in Yukon schools, alleged they were “skimmed” — charged more than the instructors paid for livestock — by Bow and the program's former director in a lawsuit filed in January 2012.
Randy Wright, president of Yukon National Bank, described “skimming” as the practice of overcharging for livestock. He said the term is well known among parents of agriculture students.
“In February of 2011, Debbie Wright and Randy Wright began to suspect that the Wrights had been ‘skimmed' due to the physical qualities and characteristics of the ... show steer,” the lawsuit states.
Within weeks, Patzkowski was hired to investigate the district's FFA program.
The investigator's report, which took more than a year to be made public, showed that Denton ordered the investigation into the district's agriculture program after receiving complaints from parents and other stakeholders. The investigation was started in spring 2011.
The complaints ranged from “skimming” by agriculture instructors, who allegedly charged parents far more for livestock than they paid to breeders, to the existence of bank accounts which “commingled private and program resources and expenditures.”
The report also shows that complaints against the agriculture program included allegations of favoritism among students by district staff and an affiliation with a booster club that reportedly has little financial oversight.
In one instance, the report states that one student was charged only $1,100 for two steers, which cost the instructor $1,800.
Patzkowski interviewed 22 individuals during his investigation, as well as examining law enforcement reports and about 600 pages of financial records “from concerned stakeholders and Program instructors.”
Denton said the school district initially refused to release the report by Patzkowski on the advice of its attorneys.