May: Three schools need audit

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 18, 2005

There was a great deal of discussion Wednesday night at a Dallas County School Board meeting after Superintendent Wayne May made a recommendation to audit three of the system’s schools.

At a special-called board meeting on Wednesday, May proposed the board hire someone to investigate the finances of three schools-Southside High, Tipton Middle and Brantley Elementary-due to some concerns surrounding a recent state audit.

May said an auditor with the State Examiners of Public Accounts discovered some problems during a recent audit of accounts that contain monies the schools earned through fundraisers and athletic events.

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Some of the inconsistencies, May said, included principals not signing for purchase orders, payments for unallowable invoices (payments to personal bills), missing tickets from athletic events, missing receipt books and instances where schools were not following accounting guidelines.

“Due to a large workload, the state examiner has not been able to go into a lot of detail. They only did an audit for a one-month period. It was suggested that we do a more thorough audit,” May said. ” The (state auditor) told me these problems could be the tip of the iceberg.”

May suggested the board hire a retired school accountant

to look into the situation at a cost of $25 per hour and not exceeding $10,000.

The board, however, had some concerns about the hiring because the state auditor has not yet provided documentation of the accounting inconsistencies.

The full audit report has not been completed or sent to the school system.

After being questioned by the board, May explained he was basing his recommendation on information the state auditor had verbally told him.

“People are saying that I’m out to get the principals. That is not true,” May said. “All I want to do is be accountable.”

Board members William Minor and Roy Edwards said they wanted to wait until the results of the audit are complete before making a decision.

“We can use the results of the audit to take action against any discrepancies,” Minor said.

Edwards said he wanted to amend May’s recommendation to include notifying the schools about a possible investigation once the board receives the results of a state audit.

After an hour of discussion, the board voted to table the recommendation pending more information.

John Pilcher, the board’s attorney, said he will be meeting the state auditor and her supervisor next week to discuss the financial discrepancies at the three schools and will report that information to the board.

“The board will then be able to act on the information I give them,” Pilcher said.