Monday, August 12, 2019

Hinds School Officials Live It Up

State Auditor Shad White issued the following statement.

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.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anonymous said...

Quick! Somebody get the folks over at the lottery to calculate the odds that anyone will be held accountable.

Perpetually triggered said...

Anyone can clearly see that pursuing this case would be racist.

Anonymous said...

I could have told you this was happening without an audit. "I expect the district to take swift action to make sure this stops.” LOL, how long can you hold your breath?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone there know's when it's 8 o'clock.

Anonymous said...

Shad better be careful as the media will label him a racist. Also, smart money says those in charge of Hinds co school district will remain in charge. No need to worry they learned there lesson.

Anonymous said...

"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"

I wonder who this was bought from and if all are accounted for or some were taken off the top for personal use?

Anonymous said...

The greatest trick of all was convincing Hinds County voters that another bond was needed.

Time To Take A Bite Outa Crime.. said...

I spy the word 'unlawful' in Mr. White's report.

That word means illegal, against the law.

It does not mean 'sloppy practice'. It does not mean 'errors in accounting practice'. It does not mean 'failed to follow best practice'. It means ILLEGAL.

I told them to start doing better is NOT an option when you have a finding of 'unlawful'.

But, unless we want Sharpton and the ACLU in town, we'd better just accept "We'll be back around later to check on your progress".

Anonymous said...

The superintendent is unqualified, uncaring, and only wants to make herself look good. She is an imbecile. Her only concern is to uphold her image and to make sure the ratings are not dropping. She has zero concerns about whether they are actually learning. Hey Mr. Auditor....Ask her what happens to all the money collected when kids have to "buy back their phones". That should be interesting.....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. White,

Please make sure your office is auditing the Lowndes County School District. They seem to have lost many $$$$ over the past couple of years. They are saying they don't have enough money to hire teachers for the district. With the industry we have in Lowndes County, that is just not acceptable.

The Taxpayer

Anonymous said...

I know the administration personally. While some things may have been not handled properly, I can honestly say that I believe nothing was done maliciously. These people, including the CFO, are of the highest character and and work for the students of Hinds County with high integrity. It may be easy to be critical and poke fun at public servants in general, this group (Board and Administration) are constantly working hard and trying to do the right thing. I work with many government and quasi-government entities and this group is at the head of the class.

I am amazed that any public entity, after going through the ordeal of an auditor's enema, can emerge from the other side with only a few accounting oversights.

Just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

FUBAR-

Anonymous said...

I bet Hood is already starting to prosecute that Asst Superintendent. Lining him up just behind the CMU board members.

Kingfish said...

Yeah. It doesn't take a genius to realize you should bid out $2 million in purchases.

Anonymous said...

Another JPS in the making? Or is this a thing common at other poorly run school districts?

Cynical Sam said...

Being a public employee in Hinds Co. is a license to steal, especially if your status could bring about raising the "race card" when caught.

Anonymous said...

Attn 8:44 You apparently are part of the problem, or, you are a troll!

Anonymous said...

Go Mr. Shad! Hold their fee to the fire!

Anonymous said...

The school "officials" attitudes are screw the kids we is looking out for us. Don't laugh...my wife was a public school teacher for 30 years (70"s, 80's and 90's) and I know what I'm talking about unfortunately. She loved to teach but the "administration" weeded her "type" out for being trouble makers. Want to get to the core of why Mississippi is number 50.....well here it is.

Anonymous said...

I do not think this stealing will stop for there is no real way when you elect bad people. Therefore you must get as far as possible from these people who can tax you and then misuse the money. For me I left the State 4 years ago and am much less taxed by out right thieves.

Anonymous said...

another classic example of why everybody wants to work for the government. you have no accountability to anyone.

Anonymous said...

@8:44 -- The leading bullet point in the audit findings, seems to indicate that the CFO is NOT of the utmost integrity and character. A thief is a thief.

Anonymous said...

They purchased the iPads and computers directly from Apple.

For the education sector, Apple is the sole source of products, per their agreement with retailers. Retailers are not allowed to sell iPads or MacBooks to schools directly in any significant quantity (outside of ATT, Verizon, and C-Spire selling devices with data sims).

They are sole source under Mississippi State purchasing law. Bitch all you want, but that's how purchasing works at that level, it's up to the manufacturer to set who sells what to whom and Apple has deemed that they'll sell direct.

Don't believe me? See: Sole Source Letter

Anonymous said...

The current top end of administration at HCPS leave a lot to be desired. We removed our kids when the Gary Rd. schools started looking like work camps instead of schools. New supe came in and ran off everyone that wasn't willing to lick her boots.

Anonymous said...

When is someone (anyone) going to do an audit (or disclose via Freedom of Information) the airport junket taken recently by the JMAA?

Anonymous said...

Just for clarification sake, are Hinds County and JPS two separate districts?

Anonymous said...

Not done maliciously? Are you taking the incompetence defense? Mediocrity is not an excuse. Nor, is ignorance. Not getting bids on a $2,000,000.00 purchase is inexcusable particularly in a highly competitor vertical. That type purchasing power allows you to demand maintenance, IT, upgrade, software, storage, security and other agreements be thrown in. If they audited for efficiency and maximum return on investment, the numbers would be appalling and everyone knows it.

Accepting or excusing mediocrity is the hallmark of failure. Doing so as a group, insures group underperformance.

Anonymous said...

@8:42...
Remind me where Lowndes co is located? What town is inside the county?

AnonyMS said...

If only all of our schools cared enough to try to make a difference like this superintendent: https://www.wired.com/story/why-some-schools-pay-more-than-others-when-buying-from-apple/

Anonymous said...

11:09, Yes. And Clinton is ran separately from both of them.

Hinds County has four school districts:

Clinton (one of the best in the state)
Jackson (one of the worse)
Hinds (see this story, but it includes Terry and Raymond area schools)
Hinds Agricultural (one school in Utica)

Anonymous said...

Well the "The chief financial officer – an assistant superintendent" has been quietly removed... wonder if he will ever face charges. Also his wife has worked in the same capacity in other School Districts... wonder if some of these "improper expenditures" happened there too. Two peas in a pod!!

Cynical Sam said...

The paper shredders and "bleach bit" software are working overtime. The unexplained wealth is being secreted, as are bling, luxury cars, and expensive wheels.

Anonymous said...

11:16 Really? (You're typing on a COMPUTER keyboard)

Anonymous said...

If you don't know where Lowndes County is (Columbus) and don't know the difference between JPS and HINDS County Schools...I'm wondering about both of you. Next you'll ask why that certain boulevard is named County Line Road.

Anonymous said...

@12:40 - wait, wut? Compurters have maps in them???

Anonymous said...

and a millage increase will come yet again next year. as it will the following year, and the following year, and the following year.....they never run out of a need to increase taxes, with zero accountability for the funds collected and spent. Mississippi education laws are completely screwed up and need fixing

Anonymous said...

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE CREDIT CARD ABUSE IN CANTON? What happened with that?

Anonymous said...

5:03...All Ed Blackmon had to do was holler RACISM and that went away.

Anonymous said...

This is why more money is NOT the answer for JPS.

Anonymous said...

FUND MAEP

Anonymous said...

@5:35pm Shad is scared of Ed Blackmon?? CANTON matters too SHAD.

Anonymous said...

These are pennies compared to all the college/university graft and malfeasance.....

Anonymous said...

Having work at the State Auditor Office before I can tell you that THE ED BLACKMON AND BARBARA BLACKMON are heavy handed in what the State Auditors Office does or DOES NOT DO. Sorry tax payers that’s just how it is.

Anonymous said...

Some of you refer to the Blackmon's as though they are mafia. I find it hard to believe that they wield that much power. Is there something I am missing here?

Anonymous said...

3:59 - And thanks to our legislators, school districts don't even have to hold a referendum on up to a 7% increase per year. So of course there are going to be automatic 7% increases every year. Got to upgrade the superintendent's Cadillac to a Mercedes. Sky's the limit.

Anonymous said...

10:48, amen!

Anonymous said...

10:58, how naive are you?

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