In 2003, the school board illegally hired Mezzatesta's sister, Tammy Moreland, as Hampshire High School's principal, according to the report.
Mezzatesta sat on a committee that interviewed three applicants for the high school job. Moreland wasn't a candidate the first time around.
The three applicants were qualified and certified for the job, but Friend readvertised the position on Mezzatesta's recommendation.
"The three applicants are knowledgeable, but I feel we may have to readvertise for a broader base," Mezzatesta wrote in a memo.
After a second round of interviews, Moreland was hired, even though she wasn't certified as a principal. The other candidates had more experience and were certified, according to the report.
Moreland privately negotiated her salary with the school board, a highly unusual practice, according to the audit team. She's paid $72,000 a year, $4,300 more than she would have received if the board followed the school system's administrative salary schedule.
Mezzatesta also brought a man into the school board's office and told the personnel director, "Take care of him," according to the report. The man was hired as an after-school program assistant, even though he wasn't properly licensed. The position was never advertised.
State school officials said illegal personnel practices were widespread in Hampshire County.
"In almost all the cases, the people with the highest qualifications weren't hired," said Kenna Seal, who directs the state Office of Education Performance Audits.
The auditors also raised questions about Mezzatesta's $60,000-a-year "community specialist" job at the Hampshire school board. The report says Mezzatesta was hired under suspicious circumstances, and the school board has repeatedly changed his job title and duties without advertising the position.
"The day-to-day activities of the person in this position need to be reviewed to determine the need for such a cost," the report states.
Last year, Mezzatesta pleaded no contest to a charge that he deleted or altered legislative computer records at the state Capitol. The nine-term delegate was removed as House Education chairman, and he lost his re-election bid to a Republican newcomer. State employees told investigators that Mezzatesta took part in an elaborate cover-up to fend off allegations that he improperly solicited state grants and lied to the state Ethics Commission.
Hampshire County school board members have declined to take disciplinary action against Mezzatesta. Friend has stood by Mezzatesta throughout the investigations.
The audit team found that Friend's son, D.J. Friend, was hired illegally. Friend's son works for Hampshire County schools, but gets paid through the regional education service agency in Martinsburg. The job was never posted in Hampshire County.
D.J. Friend was working as an alternative education aide at the high school without a proper license, according to the report. He also was paid for three weeks in July, even though the alternative program isn't open in July.
David Friend, who's out of the office on medical leave until March, could not be reached for comment. Mezzatesta also could not be reached. He has denied soliciting any grants for Hampshire schools.
To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-4869.