The former executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association knew for "some time" that an office employee was allegedly taking money and failed to report it, the association president said.

Darrin Manuel, president of the LSBA, compared the problem to termites overrunning a wooden structure and nutria burrowing into levees.

"The Louisiana School Boards Association, I learned last month, suffered a similar fate," Manuel said in a column written for The Louisiana Boardmember, magazine.

The attorney general's office is investigating the allegations.

The LSBA represents about 650 local school board members statewide and is often represented in state legislative debates.

Nolton Senegal Sr., who had been LSBA executive director since 2007, was fired in September.

Manuel said at the time that Senegal's dismissal stemmed from an investigation of possible misappropriation of funds by another member of the staff.

He declined to elaborate then.

But Manuel said in a recent column that Senegal "knew for some time" of the alleged misuse of the money "and that he failed to report the situation to LSBA leadership."

He said the group's executive committee has learned that even after Senegal was informed of the alleged thefts "checks continued to be diverted."

Manuel said the "illegal actions" apparently began before 2008 and apparently continued until three days before the LSBA met in Marksville and voted 12-5 to fire Senegal.

He said in a telephone interview that he does not know how much money is missing.

The audit firm of Postlethwaite and Netterville has been hired by LSBA leaders to come up with an answer.

"They really haven't given us any ballpark figures yet," Manuel said.

Senegal declined comment at the time of his firing.

He could not be reached on Friday.

Lloyd Dressel, the LSBA's director of business and finance, is serving as interim executive director.

Dressel said he plans to apply for the job permanently.

The LSBA is in the early stages of setting up a review process to fill the job.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell declined comment on the issue because it is under investigation.

Manuel, who is a school board member in DeRidder, said the review may be finished in the next two or three weeks.