FBI Warrant Alludes To Politics, Cronyism In Leon County Schools

Mar 19, 2015

Credit Leon County Schools

A warrant issued by the FBI for the Leon County School District’s email server paints a dark view on school politics.  In addition to seeking information on school construction projects, the warrant also goes further with targeted inquiries about potential political motives in decision-making.

Things of value or offers of things of value to Leon County employees and officials. Campaign contributions. Promotions, appointments, transfers, and terminations—that’s what the FBI is seeking in its seizure of the Leon County School district’s email server.

The request also calls for information on federal funds, and school construction projects, and purchases. The specificity of the warrant has allusions to allegations of wrongdoing concealed in a packet of documents distributed to local media outlets a year ago. It also sheds some light on claims from current and former Leon County School officials who say they were transferred from previous positions for political reasons.

That’s one allegation that has been lodged by Lively Technical Principal Woody Hildebrandt who is currently mired in legal problems and was recently charged with theft from the school district.

Hildebrandt has been working with the FBI and is claiming whistle-blower protection for his role in distributing the documents. Still, the issues are dogging the district. Superintendent Jackie Pons has been accused of steering lucrative contracts to his political donors. Several audits performed on Leon County School’s construction projects show the district skirted the spirit—but not the letter of the law when it comes to awarding contracts.