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Duquesne school district’s non-public loans to employees

The Pennsylvania Auditor General plans to refer the former superintendent and numerous different personnel of the Duquesne City School District to the kingdom ethics fee after he stated they used district cash for questionable personal loans.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s office on Monday released a forty-two-page audit of the Duquesne district, which changed into positioned below country manage in 2012 because of its suffering price range. According to the audit, which spanned from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2016, former Superintendent Barbara McDonnell legal greater than $ forty-one,000 in personal loans to herself and three different district employees. Eleven of the 22 loans authorized in the course of that time period — or about $23,000 — were to Ms. McDonnell. And despite the fact that the cash changed into used from the district’s preferred fund, none of the salary advances were accepted with the aid of the college board, the district’s receiver or the leader healing officer.

“Such behavior is mainly egregious given the district is in state receivership and has to ship its middle and secondary college students to other school districts,” Mr. DePasquale stated in a press release, arguing that the practice ought to suggest a likely misuse of public budget and violation of the nation Ethics Act.

The faculty district did now not have a formal coverage regarding the issuance of private loans to employees, however, a listing of methods become furnished to auditors, the document states. All district personnel had to do to acquire a mortgage turned into publishing a written request to the superintendent, who surpassed it alongside to the commercial enterprise manager who then referred it to a payroll clerk and a business consultant, who advanced an “informal” re-charge plan for the employee. District officers stated the loans had been issued to assist with “financial hardships,” however a number of the requests auditors reviewed protected a request for an strengthen without supplying a cause. One request from the former superintendent became for $1,000 to “assist with the holidays and my daughter.”

The report also stated that Ms. McDonnell submitted her mortgage requests immediately to the payroll clerk, a subordinate. The business manager additionally accepted loans for the payroll clerk, who’s a relative. None of the re-charge plans were formalized in writing.

The document also criticized the economic risk the loans posed to an already suffering district, even though the money became repaid via payroll deductions.

In response to the audit, the Duquesne district stated it has been running to enforce the tips of the auditor well-known’s workplace and updating district coverage and economic controls to “make sure compliance with all objects addressed” within the file.

In the audit, investigators noted that district officers said the school board plans to put in force a policy prohibiting the practice in the future and are searching for compensation of interest on the loans. The district also argued that the superintendent, no longer the commercial enterprise manager, accredited the advance for the clerk and that the superintendent did use the profits advances for “financial hardships,” which includes for a member of the family’s fitness care, university tuition and after a robbery of private belongings.

“At no time become the reason to be fraudulent in nature, abuse district budget or violate moral practices as evidenced by means of the whole repayment via payroll deductions of all revenue advances in a timely manner,” the district stated in a statement to auditors.

Ms. McDonnell resigned from the district effective Nov. 2.

Auditors also discovered several other issues related to the Duquesne district’s budget, which includes failing to maintain suitable documentation for more than $1.Three million in transportation reimbursements and data reporting errors that ended in an over-fee of approximately $a hundred and eighty,000 in transportation subsidies from the Pennsylvania Department of Education; failing to confirm that bus drivers had the best history clearances on the begin of the 2016-17 school yr; and now not having proper documentation for $104,340 in state-paid lessons for foster children.

“For the sake of the students and the taxpayers of the Duquesne School District, I honestly wish that the board and district officials get their residence in order and attention on imparting the pleasant schooling feasible for college students,” Mr. DePasquale said.

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