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Former employee's arrest, superintendent's retirement prompt shake-up

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BAKER - Almost simultaneously, the superintendent of the school system here announced his retirement as a former employee turned himself in to authorities on additional charges related to his alleged misuse of a school system credit card.

Now, Emmitt Whitfield faces charges connected to the theft of about $2,100 in fuel. The police department said Whitfield put fuel for personal use on a school system gas card.

Whitfield was most recently arrested and charged last week on charges related to the theft of some $130,000 in equipment he purchased through the school system.

Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said the timing is just coincidental and that he is tired.

Police said Whitfield has misused fuel privileges before but was given a second chance after paying restitution.

"Mr. Joseph confirmed that incident did happen, with me, and advised me that Whitfield was given a second chance, because he paid restitution," Lt. Greg Brown with the Baker Police Department said.

But, police have criticized the school system for how it handled the allegations of Whitfield's theft, particularly questioning the checks and balances of the system.

Joseph was one of three people who had to sign off on purchase orders. The other two include the board president and the business agent.

Joseph said he is ready to move on and will retire in May. He added if things were working differently, he might not be so interested in leaving.

"If everything was just right and everything was in place, sure, but you don't want to work all your life," said Joseph.

Joseph said there is much blame to pass around dealing with the theft allegations.

"I think everybody who was involved in the process I think has some blame, and there's plenty of it to go around," he said.

The School Board said Tuesday more procedures have been put into place, regarding who signs off on purchase orders. Now, more signatures are required.

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