State Auditor Finds Alarming Business Practices at Hinds County School District

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JACKSON, Miss. – Today Auditor
Shad White announced his office uncovered alarming business practices at the
Hinds County School District during a routine audit. Auditors found poor
controls over the district credit cards and bank accounts which had not been
reconciled in nearly a year. Additionally, spending records were destroyed
before they were reviewed, and the district failed to adhere to some purchasing
laws. Most concerning is a finding showing an assistant superintendent is
responsible for more than $50,000 in improper expenditures.

“The
auditor’s office just restarted compliance audits of school districts for the
first time in a few years, and already we have seen serious issues,” said State
Auditor Shad White.

Audit
findings include:

  • The chief financial officer – an assistant
    superintendent – was not monitored appropriately and is responsible for nearly
    $50,000 of improper expenditures. The assistant superintendent initiated a
    contract to provide a personal “car allowance” in addition to salary without
    board approval. This caused a $33,000 loss to the district. Auditors also
    determined the assistant superintendent used district funds to make personal
    purchases like a monthly in-air internet subscription, a stay in a luxury hotel
    suite, and other unapproved charges costing taxpayers nearly $10,000.
  • Due to poor accounting controls, over $54,000 in
    adjustments were made during the audit to reconcile the district’s bank
    statements. Errors made while inputting transactions were originally not discovered
    in part because bank reconciliations did not occur regularly.
  • Not all credit card statements were reviewed by the
    district, and several purchases were made without required written
    justification. Credit limits on various cards were exceeded, and improper
    purchases were made.
  • The district purchased iPads and Apple laptops worth
    nearly $2 million without a competitive bidding process. Mississippi purchase
    laws require competitive bids for most large purchases to ensure taxpayers
    receive the best price for goods and services.

“This
uncontrolled and unlawful administrative spending is not acceptable,” said
White. “It shortchanges teachers and students. It’s not fair for taxpayers.
They all have a right to be angry about this kind of administrative spending.
It results in money going outside the classroom and it violates our spending
laws. I expect the district to take swift action to make sure this stops.”

Audit
findings related to the assistant superintendent have been forwarded to the
Auditor’s Investigations Division. The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor
does not discuss any pending investigation and will have no further comment on
the matter.

Public
corruption can be reported to the Office of the State Auditor online any time
by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal
business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.

Click here for Mississippi State Auditor's Website