Parents grill MMSD superintendent over ex-principal's misuse of funds

District admits principal was not licensed

Parents grill MMSD superintendent...

MADISON, Wis. - Parents questioned Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham at a special meeting held Thursday night at Black Hawk Middle School over the alleged misuse of funds by the school's ex-principal.

Kenya Walker, who had been Black Hawk's principal for two years, left her position on April 28 after a district investigation determined she likely misused district funds on personal purchases.

The investigators found that Walker likely used district credit cards for personal purchases, including bus tickets and Uber rides, and Walker’s sister somehow had access to the card to pay a phone bill.

"There's nothing about what happened here that is OK," Cheatham told parents. "Ms. Walker's choices feel, for me, as the leader of the school district, like a betrayal." 

Parents asked pointed questions of Cheatham during the sometimes emotional meeting; Cheatham acknowledged during the meeting that Walker did not have proper state licensing during her tenure as principal.

"You were told in March she does not have a license," a parent asked. "You were told in June she does not have a license. You issued her a contract in January of this year. How does that happen?"

"All I can say is that it was a failure of the HR department," Cheatham responded. "I have the same questions as you."

Jeni Hanser, treasurer of the Black Hawk parent-teacher association, said before Thursday's meeting that she and many other parents felt as if the district was ignoring their concerns. She said Walker's alleged actions upset her.

"It's ultimately stealing from our kids," Hanser said.

Cheatham said Walker repaid all but $90 of the personal purchases made with district credit cards.

"That doesn't make it right," Cheatham said. 

When asked by a parent whether Walker would be prosecuted for her actions, Cheatham said the district decided not to pursue prosecution or any further action against her.

Cheatham said the district plans to make monthly checks of its administrators' licensing statuses and keep a closer eye on school finances.

"This will never happen again," Cheatham said. 

Walker has not returned News 3's phone calls to a number listed online under her name. 

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