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School District exec resigns after unauthorized spending


Indian River County School District Director of the Physical Plant John Earman has resigned following a flap over his attempt to cover a trail of overspending on outsourced janitorial services.

Earman’s curt resignation letter states, “I hereby submit my resignation as Director of the Physical Plant effective November 18, 2016. This is two-weeks’ notice.” He did not reply to requests for comment.

Earman submitted a $45,000 purchase order for “sub-custodial” work in July but the district’s new head of purchasing, Jeffrey Carver, rejected the order because it came after, not before, services were contracted. Purchase orders require prior approval to prevent one person from having too much purse-power.

“It is unacceptable to have processes out of control,” School Board Member Shawn Frost said a month ago, when Carver brought the problem to the board’s attention. Frost asked if Earman would be reprimanded and if termination was a possibility. Superintendent Mark Rendell said the incident would be reflected in the employee’s file but did not comment on termination.

Earman, who was hired in 2012, is the second district department head to resign in three months. Scott Sanders, Director of Facilities Planning & Construction, also hired in 2012, resigned in July, in the wake of complaints about the condition of some schools in the district, including newly constructed Fellsmere Elementary, where there were reports of leaks and mold.

Recent budget documents show Earman has fired 21 workers since 2014, including the carpet-cleaning crew, carpenters, groundskeepers, painters and general maintenance staff. The secretary and bookkeeper in purchasing were also let go, eliminating checks and balances on expenditures within the department.

Earman privatized field maintenance, lawn maintenance and some janitorial services with the aim of saving money but his purchase orders exceeded budgeted amounts.

School Board Member Charles Searcy has repeatedly brought up the deteriorating condition of buildings under Earman’s leadership. He also criticized Earman’s sale of field maintenance equipment, which he said makes it very costly to bring those services back in-house.

Superintendent Mark Rendell and school board members did not respond to a request for comment regarding Earman’s resignation.