St. Tammany Schools head details audit on isolated misappropriation

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 10 at 8:01 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

COVINGTON, La. -- The St. Tammany Parish School District is explaining details about a legislative auditor’s report into its finances, due out Monday.

Wednesday, the state agency announced plans to release the “D” rated audit report, which indicated a comment on fraud or abuse is included.

"It's important to us that we clarify this and also deal with it, and from everything I'm being told by them, we did everything right," said St. Tammany School Superintendent Trey Folse.

And it all started over the summer when a supplies vendor, for one school, said it didn’t get paid.

“We started looking into the situation, reviewing the books at one of the schools," Folse said.

A report, created by St. Tammany Schools, says the district not only discovered a bookkeeper was not administering money appropriately from a student activity fund, but that the same bookkeeper had written a $2,580 check from the fund to herself.

The unnamed employee paid the money back when the district fired her. The superintendent also discipline the principal of the unnamed school and put procedures in place to safeguard school assets. The report was then sent to the district’s outside audit firm, the legislative auditor and the district attorney’s office.

Because of that, Folse takes issue with the audit being classified as a “D.” Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said his office has had a long-standing policy of issuing grades to help people understand the classification of the information in the report. He said the letter doesn’t characterize the district as a whole.

"If anything, when we became aware of the problem, because of our own internal controls, we took care of the problem and we moved on," said Folse.

Despite the one issue, on one sheet of a 150-page report, the district will still be receiving an excellence in financial reporting award Thursday night, continuing a 20-plus year streak. And the superintendent hopes to keep it that way, no matter the trouble it may cause in the process.

“The best thing was to do the right thing," he said. "It's not always the easiest thing." A spokesman for the district attorney says whether or not the employee will face criminal charges is unknown at this time. The office received notification of the incident in August and expects the full report on it next week.

 

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