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Former Dayton Superintendent Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Former Dayton Independent Schools Superintendent Gary Rye pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to embezzlement charges.

He faces eighteen to twenty-four months in prison when sentenced by Judge David Bunning in April.

On November 21, Dayton Schools and Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen announced that the district had reached a settlement agreement with Rye that would require the former superintendent to return $473,000.

Rye had been accused of padding his retirement without board approval, charging gas for his personal vehicle to his district credit card, being compensated improperly for sick leave days, and other misappropriations. Current Superintendent Jay Brewer discovered the questionable disbursements and approached Edelen's office in the fall of 2012.

In March, Edelen announced that his office would launch an investigation.

"The special exam of Dayton Schools contained the most stomach-churning findings of any exam since I took office two years ago," Edelen told The River City News in a statement on Monday. "It sparked a level of emotion in me that I try to contain as a public leader. An individual entrusted with the monumental task of educating kids, ninety percent of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch, literally drained the bank account of this small, poor district. There must be consequences for stealing from kids, especially vulnerable kids. Last month we announced that a half million dollars would be returned to the district. This is a good ending to an otherwise sad saga."

In addition to the $473,000 to be returned to the district by Rye, $38,000 will be returned by auditing firm Rankin & Rankin, for a total of $511,000 in recovered funds.

By Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Dayton Superintendent Jay Brewer at news conference in November/RCN file