It took almost two and a half years, but the audit conducted by the State Auditor & Inspector’s Office was finally released today, March 18, 2018.
The Luther Register’s first story about the cititzen’s petition being submitted to the state calling for the investigative audit was back in November of 2015. For some time, we have heard that this audit was mostly complete but needed “finishing touches.” We received an email with the link to the audit right after 5pm today. The audit was triggered by a petition signed by 351voters in the Luther School District with allegations that ranged from mismanagement of funds from bonds to nepotism to mismanagement of certain activity funds. While we will continue to read the audit carefully, the summary (listed below) indicates that investigative findings are not criminal in nature, but do list several opportunities for improvement in accountability, communication and following the Open Meetings Act. School district observers will note that the administration, board leadership and accounting practices largely have changed since the audit was called. And we can also note that some of the improvements to accounting were put in place by the former Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Buxton, who resigned a year ago, and passed away last May.
Current Superintendent Barry Gunn has also received the audit and will spend some time reading it. The Luther Register will seek comment from Mr. Gunn as well as others involved including the citizens who called for the audit.
For now, here’s the link for you to read it as well, and we’ll work as a community to parse it out. The audit cost the school district in excess of $40,000. And two years later, the school district is operated by different leadership in the administration and board.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The citizens of the Luther Public School District requested an audit pursuant to 74 O.S. § 212(L). The objectives of the audit included, but were not limited to, a review of bond project funds, school activity funds, personnel contracts, and grant funds. The scope of the petition was July 1, 2013 through October 31, 2015.
Bonds (Page 2) The District expended $79,137.53 from bond funds for work or materials not allowed as a bond expenditure. The District also did not bid three construction projects as required by law, and encumbrances for 27 of the 109 vendors reviewed were not reflected as approved in the Board minutes. The proceeds of the bond issues were comingled into one bank account, blank pre-signed payment-requisition forms were on file in the District’s administration office, and some records pertaining to the expenditure of bond proceeds were not maintained by the District.
Activity Funds (Page 11) The Home Run Club, a booster club for the District’s baseball program, was never officially sanctioned by the Board, maintained an unapproved bank account outside of the District’s Activity Fund, and collections receipted by the Club did not always reconcile with collections receipted and deposited in the Baseball Activity Fund. The District did not have required policies in place to provide guidelines for fundraising clubs and organizations that had been sanctioned. We found no evidence that the FFA Activity Fund and the GoFundMe account established for the Design and Fabrication Class had been mismanaged.
Personnel Contracts (Page 16) A Spanish teacher and a Design and Fabrication instructor were employed without proper certification, resulting in unallowable compensation of $32,436.52 and $50,342.91, respectively. The Board’s hiring of Superintendent Buxton’s wife for the position of “Dean of Students” did not appear to violate nepotism laws; however, the position was not properly posted in accordance with District policy. The position of medical secretary was hired without official approval of the Board. The individual in this position attended college classes during school hours and did not appear to fulfill her 12-month contract.
Grants (Page 22) Petitioners concerns involving $90,000 of questioned costs in grant funds, reported in the FY2014 independent audit, were verified as employee contracts that could not be located. The District’s FY2015 independent auditor reported the “Current Status” with no additional concerns.