By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A company owned by Lee County School District’s assistant superintendent handled subcontracting work for the district last summer, documents obtained by the Daily Journal show.
Jimmy Weeks, the assistant superintendent, owns JW Contract Services LLC. He also is a candidate for Lee County superintendent of education.
His company was subcontracted by Siemens Industry to clean up at the end of a project that installed heating, ventilation and air conditioning at six Lee County schools.
Mississippi’s ethics law prohibits public servants, including school district administrators, from being a contractor, subcontractor or vendor with the school district that employs them. It also prohibits them from having a “material financial interest” in any business that works as a contractor or subcontractor for that district.
The law allows an exception if such goods or services are available from two or fewer commercial sources.
Weeks said that exception applies to him in this case.
“When the Siemens company contacted us, they had not been able to find anyone else to do the work,” Weeks said. “From everyone I talked to, that exception applied to us, so we hadn’t done anything wrong.”
A representative of Siemens Building Technologies in Tupelo could not be reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
Lee County School District policy prohibits public servants from using their official position to obtain financial benefits for themselves other than that compensation provided by law.
It also prohibits employees from “engaging at any time in any employment or activity that would interfere with their ability to perform or their effectiveness in performing regular assigned duties.”
School board president Sherry Mask said she could not legally comment because the matter involved personnel. School board attorney Gary Carnathan could not be reached on Tuesday but said previously that he could not comment because the matter involved personnel.
Tom Hood, executive director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission, also said that he was unable to comment on the case or whether the commission was investigating.
If a complaint were to be brought before the commission, it would be investigated and go before a hearing. If Weeks were to be found in violation of ethics law, he could face a fine of up to $10,000 and could be forced to repay any money he gained unlawfully.
JW Contract Services used five workers to do the work between May 31, 2010, and Aug. 27, 2010, according to the documents obtained under Mississippi’s Public Records law. It received $120,000 from Siemens for the work and paid $45,754 in wages to its workers during the 13 weeks of the project. Weeks was not among the five workers on the project.
Weeks signed the payroll documents as the owner of JW Contract Services. He said he is the lone full-time employee of the company, which has been in business since May 2009, according to the secretary of state’s website.
Weeks said his brother, Jon Weeks, worked for the company at the time of the subcontract, but no longer does. Jon Weeks was also Siemens’ sales representative to the school district when the project was awarded.
Jimmy Weeks was promoted from Mooreville Elementary’s principal to Lee County’s assistant superintendent on May 15, 2010.
The school district had advertised on June 29, 2009, for contractors to bid on a project to provide energy conservation equipment and services.
Siemens was awarded the $2.5 million project as its lone bidder. The company replaced window air units with a central air system at Shannon Elementary, Shannon Middle, Verona Elementary, Plantersville Elementary, Mooreville High and Saltillo Elementary schools.
The project was paid with low-interest bonds funded by the federal stimulus program.
Weeks did not oversee the project in any way as a school district employee.
Weeks is a Republican candidate for Lee County superintendent and will face Robert Smith in the Aug. 2 primary. The winner will face either incumbent Superintendent Mike Scott or fellow Democrat John McGaugh in the Nov. 8 general election.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.