AMERICAN UNIVERSITYLadner Ouster Prompts Tax Audit The Internal Revenue Service is examining American University's tax returns for three years, prompted by a spending scandal that led to the ouster of President Benjamin A. Ladner, officials said yesterday. The university's board of trustees gave Ladner a $3.75 million departure package when he was forced out of office in October 2005. Interim President Cornelius Kerwin said in a community-wide letter yesterday that the IRS was scrutinizing records from tax years 2004 through 2006. Tom Gottschalk, vice chairman of the board, said the school is cooperating fully.

The trustees are searching for a president to head the private university in Northwest Washington.

The search panel, which has more than 100 résumés, is accepting candidates into March, according to spokesman David Taylor.

-- Valerie Strauss

WEATHERWinter Storm Watch Is IssuedThe National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch yesterday in anticipation of an icy mix of precipitation beginning late tonight in central Virginia and spreading over the Washington region overnight and into tomorrow.

The heaviest precipitation is supposed to occur during the day tomorrow, the Weather Service said, before tapering off to freezing drizzle early Monday. "There is the potential for significant ice accumulations of a quarter of an inch or more," the notice said.

A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain hit the region last week, closing most schools for three days.