BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Upshur County school system is the target of a “Special Circumstance Review” by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and has been instructed to repay tens of thousands of dollars in federal COVID-19 grants.

12 News has obtained a copy of a letter sent by state Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach to Upshur County School administrators, dated May 22, 2023.

According to the letter, the state Department of Education, at Roach’s direction, is conducting the review “to investigate documentation submitted to WVDE through a routine Federal Programs Monitoring.”

12 News has also obtained a copy of Upshur County’s Local Education Agency Monitoring Document, which shows several areas in which the county schools were found to not meet compliance.

The largest monetary amount mentioned in the document is $21,320 spent on free passes to the West Virginia Wildlife Center for the Summer of 2021. The WVDE monitoring document said, “since nothing has been shown that these passes had a programmatic purpose these would not be allowed.”

Additionally, the report shows of the 1,066 passes purchased, only 820 were assigned to individuals for use, leaving 246 passes “unaccounted for.” Of the 820 passes assigned, 87 went to school employees and two went to members of the Upshur County Board of Education.

The document says Upshur County Schools must repay the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief grant and “submit in writing what happened to the passes that were not assigned to individuals.”

The WVDE’s monitoring document went on to caution that this may violate state ethics rules, saying “please be advised that such expenditures may also constitute violations of the West Virginia Ethics Act,” and suggested that “Upshur County Schools consults with legal counsel to determine next steps in resolving this matter.”

According to West Virginia Department of Education Communications Director Christy Day, a report on the review will be submitted to the state Board of Education at a future meeting.

Interim superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison responded to an email seeking comment saying that because this is an ongoing review, the administration has no comment at this time.