07/17/11 — No word yet on former assistant school superintenent

View Archive

No word yet on former assistant school superintenent

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 17, 2011 12:14 AM

State and local officials say they have little to report on the status of a case involving the Wayne County Public Schools assistant superintendent who came under investigation in December 2009 and quietly retired three months later.

Sprunt Hill of Mount Olive, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, had worked in the district for 32 years.

Initially, school officials indicated he had been suspended and placed on administrative leave with pay, pending an investigation by the SBI. His duties have since been absorbed by other members of the district's leadership team.

"That's not changing," said Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance, among those who have taken on additional duties formerly handled by Hill. She said there are no plans to fill the position.

As second-in-command in the district, Hill's duties had included overseeing the day-to-day operations such as maintenance, custodial work, technology support and transportation.

At the time of his departure, Hill's salary was $102,297, Mrs. Barwick said.

Because no charges have been filed against him, his retirement was treated like that of any school employee.

There was "no payout other than a typical anybody-else-retiring," Mrs. Barwick said, adding that information on retirement payments is handled by the retirement system at the state treasurer's office. "All we do is submit paperwork."

A representative from the N.C. Department of State Treasurer reported Hill's gross monthly retirement benefit is $5,448.

Calls to several agencies produced no official outcome to the Hill case.

The state Attorney Gen-eral's office maintains "(we) still don't have anything where he has been charged" and could not comment on the status of the case.

"The investigation has been going on since 2009 and the district has not received any new updates on it," said Ken Derksen, Wayne County Schools public information officer. "And, of course, once the investigation is complete, more information will be shared with the district and the public."

Shawn Harris of Wayne County's Sheriff Office has a tie-in to the case, through his involvement on the FBI Task Force. Even so, he said he was limited in what he can say at this point.

"Federal investigation is a whole lot different than state. I can't discuss anything about it," he said Monday. "I'm still working with them, that's all I call tell you."

But the Hill case is considered a federal investigation, he confirmed.

Harris was able to speculate on why the case might be taking so long, some 18 months since the investigation began.

"(It's) based on different cases and time spans. They vary on a whole lot of things -- size of the case, the materials you're getting, being able to work with different agencies, if you have got lots of agencies involved," he said.

While at present there's no "official classification" he could provide relating to the case, Harris said in time he hopes that will change.

"As soon as I get an official ruling or designation -- the sheriff has already asked me to get that to him -- but we have not had anything official from people to make those decisions and come forward to say anything," he said. "There's no specific designation listed at all on the status of the case."