MANASSAS, Va. (WUSA9) - A celebrated high school baseball coach is back on the job after taking back his resignation earlier this week.
Colgan High School's Mike Colangelo has been the target of an investigation by the Prince William County school auditor. And the former chairman of the school board says Colangelo has been profiting from the free use of public school ball fields...paid for by your tax dollars.
But, the baseball coach says he paid ALL the fees and that the problem is with the school system.
One of the largest non-profit baseball organizations, the Virginia Stars, is headed by former major leaguer Mike Colangelo. And he owns the for-profit business Colangelo Baseball. Mike Colangelo is also the head baseball coach at Prince William County's Colgan High School which opened in 2016.
"People are after me. I'm a former major leaguer. I do a ton for the community," said Colangelo.
Prince William County Public School auditors started scrutinizing Colangelo in 2012 after several anonymous allegations over his use of public school fields and facilities...without paying the required fees.
"I paid the fees. Whatever they told me to pay, I paid," said Calangelo.
Investigative reports by the school system's Office of Risk Management identified more than $260,000 in potentially unbilled fees Colangelo was supposed to have paid from 2009 to 2011 for using public school facilities: $5,250 at Battlefield H.S., $68,450 at Forest Park H.S., $37,800 at Woodbridge H.S. and $148,863 at Hylton H.S.
Hylton High School's athletic director is Sal Colangelo...Mike's brother. Sal's attorney blames the auditor. In an email the attorney says that Mike Colangelo paid the fees, "to the county (not the schools) and that was at the direction of school authorities." And he claims the audit is flawed and will either be withdrawn or replaced with a second audit.
"The athletic director at Hylton High School was billing other groups, was entering their usage into the system, was making sure that their payment was received. And then, he wasn't billing his brother's group," said Ryan Sawyers, the former chairman of the Prince William County School Board He points to the investigative reports that show, during those same years, Sal Colangelo did bill other groups for using facilities at Hylton.
The Showstopper Dance competitors paid more than $57,000 and the Gateway Christian Church paid more than $43.000.
Mike Colangelo says he paid every dime he was charged.
"They told me to pay $6,000. I owe you a $6,000 check. You tell me to pay $8,000. I write an $8,000 check. Whether you can track where you put it, that's not business. I don't work for the school system. As long as I paid my money and I can go to sleep every night knowing I paid every single season, I'm good to go."
The reporter asked, "Sounds like you're saying the system is screwed up?"
"Call it what you will. It's not my system," said Calangelo.
"He knows that there's a billing process and he knows that school facilities don't come for free," said Sawyers.
This past spring, in a public school board meeting, Mike Colangelo challenged the school board and auditor Gary Maness over his investigation and reports.
"I will meet with Gary Maness and go over the incompetence of his work and all the mistakes he made in the audit," Colangelo told the board.
WUSA9 wanted to talk to Gary Maness about the audit report, too. He said that he doesn't give interviews and that we should call the interim school board chairman Babur Lateef for comment.
We did, but he wouldn't talk to us on camera, either. He did say in this email that, "I have very limited knowledge of this issue since I was not on the School Board at the time...The School Board takes all audits and investigations seriously. When the need for changes are necessary, they are addressed and corrected."
Sawyers had already resigned by the time Colangelo spoke before the current Prince William County school board. The former school board chairman says he could not get the members to address the issue of the unpaid fees. He says its part of what led to his resignation.
"They took a perfectly public audit and covered it up in a closed session as not to embarrass their friends and political allies to months before an election," said Sawyers.
The minutes of the September 16, 2015 Internal Audit Committee meeting show that the school board did go into a closed session for nearly an hour. But, the reason for that decision is not listed. WUSA9 asked school officials several times over several weeks why the board went into closed session. An answer never came.
Auditor Gary Maness concluded in his review of the Hylton High School investigation that it, "appears to substantiate unbilled facility usage fees to Colangelo Baseball. And, that "there was no documented evidence of any personnel action taken as a result of those investigations."
"The burden is on the public officials who have allowed this to happen and those who have not been a part of it, but actively covered it up," said Sawyers.
Payments for using high school fields, prior to 2016 went to the Prince William County Parks and Recreations Department, not the school system. Invoices from PWC Parks and Rec. show Colangelo paid more than $46,000 between 2012 and 2015. Colangelo says neither he nor the county still have the invoices from 2009 to 2011. Those are the years covered in the 2012 audit which alleged Colangelo owes more than $260,000 for using public school facilities.
PWCS statement on internal audit on use of athletic fields:
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) is responding to recent media coverage regarding an audit conducted by the PWCS Internal Auditor into the use of PWCS athletic facilities and a confidential underlying investigation conducted in 2012 by the PWCS Office of Risk Management and Security Services. Those documents featured on Channel 7 and on Channel 9 in interviews of former Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers and Colgan High School’s baseball coach, Mike Colangelo, which contain personnel information protected by law, were released without authorization to the news media in 2017. Media outlets were placed on notice at the time that the records were confidential in nature and had been released without authorization. Until recently, the media has refrained from publishing that confidential information.
The School Division has been in communication with Mike Colangelo and his attorney, who recently indicated that they have records calling into question the accuracy of the audit and underlying investigation and agreed to provide them to PWCS. Upon receipt of those records, PWCS will reopen and reexamine the investigation and the audit as it pertains to Mr. Colangelo and make any corrections that are merited.
Both Mike Colangelo and his brother, Sal Colangelo, Athletic Director for Hylton High School, continue to make valuable contributions to the School Division and many of its students. In response to the recommendations made in the 2012 audit, PWCS continues to address oversight of the use of school and athletic facilities by outside groups to ensure equitable access and implement effective processes for the collection of appropriate fees for such usage.