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Former Martin County superintendent abused power, state auditor says

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

INEZ, Ky. (WYMT) - Update: 10/22, 6 p.m.

A former superintendent of the Martin County school system abused his power in order to help his family during his tenure, the state auditor said Tuesday.

State Auditor Adam Edelen in a report accused Mark Blackburn of approving an inflated salary for his wife and awarding a privately-funded scholarship to two of his children.

"One of the examples is he put his wife in a position and paid her more than what was in compliance with the grant fund used to pay for her position," Edelen said. "And the other was that two of his children had benefited from a scholarship program that wasn't properly overseen."

Steven Meadows succeeded Blackburn as superintendent in July.

"It's concerning that we would need an outside agency such as the state auditor's office to come in and do these types of audits," Meadows said. "It's uncomfortable and sometimes it's even inconvenient. But it is necessary."

The scholarship program Blackburn is accused of abusing is under examination by the Martin County School Board, Meadows said.

"We want to make sure it's transparent and that all our eligible students know or are aware that this scholarship is available so that they can compete for it," Meadows said. "Because it is a scholarship based upon need of the student."

Edelen turned over some of his findings to the Kentucky Board of Education.

Meadows said he cannot comment on whether the findings released Tuesday will affect Blackburn's current job as a teacher in Martin County.

WYMT unable to get comment from Blackburn Tuesday. But he told the Associated Press he is disappointed at how the auditor has portrayed the findings and said his children earned the scholarship money on their own.

Original Story: 10/22, 4 p.m.

(AP) - Kentucky's auditor says a former school superintendent assigned his wife to a job with an inflated salary, costing Martin County schools an extra $200,000 over four years.

The report released Tuesday by Auditor Adam Edelen also says the ex-superintendent awarded a privately funded scholarship to two of his children.

Edelen says the review shows the need for school boards to properly oversee superintendents.

Edelen's office identified the former superintendent as Mark Blackburn.

Current Martin County schools Superintendent Steven Meadows says the district will create or strengthen policies to avoid a repeat of such incidents.

Blackburn works in the school system as an elementary school teacher.

Blackburn says he's disappointed at how the auditor has portrayed the findings and says his children earned the scholarship money on their own.

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