Police searched the residence of Shakopee Public Schools Superintendent Rod Thompson last week and left with a TV, laptop and Kindle as part of an investigation into purchases made with school district funds.
Police began investigating in May after a citizen reported concerns about Thompson’s spending in the wake of district financial problems. Earlier in the school year, Thompson announced that the district had a $4.5 million budget shortfall because of a human error. The Facebook group Concerned Citizens of Shakopee responded by raising questions about Thompson.
“When it rose to a level beyond people talking, that’s when we opened an investigation,” Shakopee police Capt. Craig Robson said. “We are focusing on the credit card and those charges.”
The search warrant affidavit reveals that Thompson made several personal purchases with his district credit card totaling about $3,500. Thompson said use of the district card was “unintentional” and he later reimbursed the district, according to the affidavit.
Authorities found that Thompson used his district card to pay for a 2016 trip to Nashville with his wife, a 42-inch flat-screen TV and PayPal and Amazon purchases. Thompson said he gave the district a smaller TV and reimbursed the district for the difference in price.
Thompson said that he had planned the trip for business and pleasure but it became strictly a vacation. On the trip, Thompson and his wife attended a Vikings game together, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit cites interviews with various employees who stated that Thompson was often late when handing over receipts for expenses. Former district finance director Michael Burlager said Thompson was the only one of 104 district employees who did not respond to requests for receipts.
Burlager notified the district of the multimillion-dollar error in 2016 and soon after announced his retirement.
After a regularly scheduled school board meeting Monday, board members met in closed session.
“The school board was able to come together and have a discussion related to charges or allegations involving an employee,” the district said in a statement. “Although state law prohibits us from providing any specific information at this time, this should not be interpreted as any indication as to what further action the school board may or may not take.”
In April, the Shakopee school board had approved an independent investigation into the health of the district by St. Paul consulting firm NeuVest.
Police are asking for anyone with more information to come forward.