Holy Cross High principal put on leave after audit He was suspended without pay last week after "numerous financial irregularities" were turned up.

Posted: November 28, 2006

The principal of Holy Cross High School in Delran was suspended without pay last week after a preliminary audit showed "numerous financial irregularities" in certain accounts he oversaw exclusively, said officials from the Diocese of Trenton.

Joseph Lemme, who was hired four years ago, will remain on indefinite leave until a more comprehensive audit has been performed, said diocesan spokeswoman Rayanne Bennett.

Officials would not elaborate on the irregularities, and stopped short of saying that money is missing.

"The preliminary audit yielded some serious concerns and violations of policies regarding the handling and accounting of money," Bennett said. "The accounts in question represent a very small portion of the budget."

Holy Cross, the only Catholic high school in Burlington County, has 750 students and an annual operating budget of roughly $6 million.

The audit was done after senior administrative staff raised concerns. The county Prosecutor's Office will be consulted if wrongdoing is found, Bennett said.

A letter sent Nov. 22 to parents, students, faculty and staff announcing the suspension requested prayers for Lemme and his family.

"During Mr. Lemme's tenure, many exciting and enriching steps have been taken to advance the educational program of Holy Cross High School," wrote Judith A. Caviston, the diocesan secretary for education.

Vice principal Dennis Guida, who has been at the school for 28 years, was named acting principal.

Lemme was unavailable for comment last night.

Contact staff writer Joel Bewley at 609-261-0900 or jbewley@phillynews.com.

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