It’s one thing for a State Legislator to be out drinking in the early morning hours while he is away from his wife and family in Des Moines for the legislative session. I guess it’s even ok if that legislator is drunk off his ass and wreaks his car at 3 a.m. And by now we should expect that legislator to get let off the hook on a technicality because the cop forgot to tell him if he refused to take the breathalyzer, he would lose his commercial drivers licenses, even though he would automatically lose it for drinking and driving in the first place.
Rep. Kerry Burt’s first term in office has been a train wreck…err…car wreck, I mean disaster.
Things got a lot worse for Rep. Burt yesterday when State Auditor Dave Vaudt released a report showing that Rep. Burt knowingly lied about his address so that his son could get cheap tuition at the Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls.
So basically, Rep. Burt conned the State of Iowa out of $37,000. Heck, he’s stealing money that could go help educated needy kids.
Now I don’t know about you, but when you get caught stealing from your employer, you get fired or go to jail.
There are no excuses for what Burt did. He knew his kids were not in the school’s low-tuition zone. He used a relative’s address to enroll them and was even outspoken about what he was doing. Rep. Burt said, “I guess I have to keep using this address because you haven’t lowered the tuition yet.” Maybe the worst offense of all is the fact that Burt was in cahoots with the former school administrator. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and he did it anyway.
Here is Vaudt’s Report, it’s worth the read.
Burt – According to information we obtained from Power School® for the 2008/2009 academic year, Kerry Burt had 2 children enrolled at the School and the children resided at 1815 Franklin Street, Cedar Falls, which is a residence within the Zone. According to the Black Hawk County Assessor’s website, the deed holder of the Franklin Street address is Marguerite Pircer, who has resided there since 2001.
With the assistance of a DCI special agent, we interviewed Ms. Pircer, who stated Kerry Burt is her daughter’s paternal uncle. Ms. Pircer also verified she did not have a guardianship agreement for Mr. Burt’s 2 children who attend the School and neither he nor the children had resided at the address. Ms. Pircer also stated she received mail in Mr. Burt’s name from the School at her home, which she sent to school with her daughter, who also attends the School, to be delivered to Mr. Burt’s son.
It was her understanding Mr. Burt used the Franklin Street address on the children’s registration forms so they would be able attend the School. We also interviewed Ms. Pircer’s fiancé, who stated he had resided at the Franklin Street address for the last 4 years and Mr. Burt’s children had not resided at the address during the time he had been residing there. According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website, Kerry Burt is a State Representative for District 21. His address is listed as 150 Hawthorne Avenue, Waterloo, which is outside the Zone. In addition, according to the Black Hawk County Assessor’s website, Kimberly A. Griffith is listed as the deed holder of 150 Hawthorne Avenue, Waterloo. During an interview with Mr. Burt, he stated Ms. Griffith is his fiancé and he has resided at the address for approximately 13 years.
On April 3, 2009, during an interview with Dean Callahan on the University campus, we learned Mr. Burt had attended a local Legislator’s Breakfast. University officials periodically meet with local Legislators to discuss proposed legislation and its impact on the University. The breakfast held in April was attended by University President Benjamin Allen. When we spoke with President Allen, he stated this was the first time Mr. Burt had attended a breakfast. According to the President, after the breakfast, Mr. Burt told him he was possibly 1 of the parents being investigated because he had put an incorrect address on School applications so his children could attend the School. Mr. Burt also told him he had talked to Principal J.D. Cryer that morning prior to the breakfast.
On April 3, 2009, we met with Mr. Cryer regarding his meeting with Mr. Burt. Mr. Cryer stated Mr. Burt came into his office and indicated he was being audited. He stated when his oldest child had started school, he was living in the Zone on Franklin Street. Mr. Burt stated his oldest child’s biological mother lived in Cedar Falls and she wanted him to go to Cedar Falls Schools. Mr. Burt stated he was from Waterloo and wanted the child to go there, so they compromised on the School. Mr. Burt also stated he had remarried since then and moved to Waterloo, but kept using the Franklin Street address when he registered his children for school. Mr. Burt stated “the Auditors had talked to him about his falsifying records.”
With the assistance of a DCI special agent, we met with Mr. Burt and his attorney on April 29, 2009. During the meeting, Mr. Burt admitted he completed the enrollment/registration forms for his children. The forms showed the students resided at 1815 Franklin Street. However, neither he nor the children had ever resided at that address.
During the interview, we asked Mr. Burt if he applied for open enrollment for the children from the Waterloo Community School District. Mr. Burt stated when he had initially tried to open enroll from the District, he was told by a District Administrator it was unlikely the open enrollment would be approved. Mr. Burt stated he completed the forms, but had never received a denial letter from the District or the School. Mr. Burt also stated he spoke with a specific representative of the Waterloo Community School District. When we contacted that individual, he confirmed he worked with open enrollment applications for several years. He also stated he did not specifically remember an open enrollment application for Mr. Burt’s children. When asked if he had any conversations with Mr. Burt, the individual stated “I know Kerry Burt and I did not have any conversations with him.”
We verified with representatives of the Waterloo School District an open enrollment application had not been filed for Mr. Burt’s children and the children were not approved for open enrollment. As a result, the children were not eligible to attend the School prior to the 2007/2008 academic year. In addition, for the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 academic years, the family should have tuitioned-in in order for the children to attend the School
Mr. Burt stated on the same day he applied for open enrollment from the Waterloo Community School District, he went to the School to discuss with administrators how he would be able to have his oldest child attend the School. Mr. Burt’s oldest child has attended the School since the 2001/2002 academic year.
According to Mr. Burt, he talked to Mr. Smith with a secretary present. Mr. Burt stated Mr. Smith pointed to the enrollment/registration form and told him “you need an address in the Zone for your son to attend Price Lab School”. During the 2001/2002 academic year, Mr. Smith was the High School Principal, not the Director. It is unclear why Mr. Smith would have assisted Mr. Burt in completing the application forms for his son. In addition, when we met with Mr. Smith on April 1, 2009, he stated he “didn’t know anything about Kerry Burt.” It was not readily apparent what Mr. Smith was referring to because he had not been asked about the fees paid by Mr. Burt or any other parents.
When asked if someone at the School had provided him the address to put on the form, Mr. Burt responded, “No, but Mr. Smith and several other staff knew my niece lived at the 1815 Franklin Street and no one questioned it”. Mr. Burt went on to state Mr. Smith knew he had a Waterloo address. Mr. Burt also stated he was not aware of the tuition-in registration rate until recently. When we spoke with a former School employee, she recalled a remark made by Mr. Burt during the registration process one year. According to the former employee, Mr. Burt stated “I guess I have to keep using this address because you haven’t lowered the tuition yet.” This statement conflicts with Mr. Burt’s statement he was unaware of the higher tuition-in registration rate until recently.
When asked about his meeting with Mr. Cryer, Mr. Burt stated he did not recall admitting he falsified the enrollment forms/registrations. He also stated he was in paying lunch fees and decided to meet with Mr. Cryer. Mr. Burt also stated he met with President Allen at a Legislative breakfast regarding recent legislation he was working on or had worked on as a Representative in the Iowa Legislature. Mr. Burt stated the investigation was brought up during the meeting and he told President Allen his address may be one of the addresses questioned.
Because the Burt students lived outside the Zone and did not have approval for open enrollment, the Burt family should have tuitioned-in and been charged the higher fee. As illustrated by Exhibit A, the proper registration fees for Mr. Burt’s children for the 2003/2004 through 2008/2009 academic years total $41,142.00. As a result of the incorrect address used for the children, only $4,003.00 was actually charged to the family. The difference of $37,139.00 is included in Table 3.
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