Legislative Audit Finds Issues in Lafayette Parish School System, Including Missing Background Checks
Several issues were raised concerning some activities written about in an audit conducted by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor Office.
The firm of Kolder, Slaven and Company, LLC of Lafayette conducted the audit.
One of the issues raised by auditors was questioning whether or not all background checks required by law were conducted. If you would like to see the entire audit, click here for the Legislative Auditor's Office website.
Here is a quote from the audit about background checks:
The School Board did not adhere to the statue or its policies and procedures regarding performing and maintaining background checks in the personnel file documentation.
We have reached out to the Lafayette Parish School System for the comments regarding this issue and others concerning the calculations concerning salaries. They say the two issues noted have been resolved.
They issued a press release to try to answer some of the questions concerning these issues:
A few findings did appear on the report and the majority were addressed prior to presentation of the ACFR through increased internal control measures, ongoing training opportunities, and hiring of additional staff to assist with adminstrative duties.
One of the findings in the audit published by The Center Square was as follows:
On February 17, 2022, the School Accounting Auditor was notified by the Principal and Account Clerk at Carencro High that the Bookkeeper had been maintaining a bag in her desk with cash. The cash was from prior year fees that were collected and not deposited into the school bank account. It was determined that for several years prior year student fees were being collected and deleted from a fees management system but were not being deposited into the school bank account. These fees were inst3ead placed into a bag in the bookkeeper's desk.
Now, according to the Center Square, school officials did contact the District Attorney. This happened in June of 2022. The press release from the school system says they have hired two additional bookkeepers.
How salaries were calculated after a one-time payment to teachers and pay that increased annually for teachers were apparently calculated incorrectly, and so there are questions about how that will be rectified.
LPSS says in their press release say there were 19 findings, six were duplicates via the process, and there were 13 left. They add that 9 issues have been resolved and the 4 findings that are left are being dealt with.
The following is the entire press release sent from LPSS today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023
LPSS Releases Results of Annual External Audit Receives Highest Rating Possible
Last week, the Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS) publicly presented the results of its 2021-2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR). Each year the district’s records, including the records of each school site, undergo internal and external auditing to ensure transactions are processed in compliance with federal and state law, as well as board policy. The district received the highest rating possible for a governmental entity from its external auditors.
A few findings did appear on the report and the majority were addressed prior to presentation of the ACFR through increased internal control measures, ongoing training opportunities, and hiring of additional staff to assist with administrative duties. Per the reporting auditor, “Of the 19 findings, six are duplicate for single audit purposes. Of the remaining 13, nine are resolved.” The remaining four are partially resolved and corrective action plans have been approved and implemented.
As with any large organization such as LPSS, it is anticipated that a percentage of findings will appear during an annual audit as a result of factors such as changes in federal and state reporting guidelines and employee turnover. For example, changes in audit and single audit requirements modified the procedures of which firms must adhere to when conducting certain tests.
These new testing procedures allow for testing of records that are up to 30 years old. One long standing audit finding is related to school fundraising. Due to the change in employment at some schools, new employees have to be trained on internal processes which includes money collections and fundraising. In 2022, LPSS hired two additional staff members to train school bookkeepers with reconciling money collections.
After several months of training, these additional staff members have been traveling to various schools to help support and assist other bookkeepers. Auditors noted improvement in fundraising and money collections processes in schools when compared to previous years. One transaction was discovered to have been recorded in 2022 instead of 2021. The timing of the recording of this transaction caused it to be considered a finding, but the transaction itself did not have any effect on the school system.
The other 99.99% of all financial transactions were recorded in compliance with GAAP. Another finding referenced background checks. LPSS does not hire any individual without conducting a background check. This has always been LPSS’s employment practice and the employment process cannot begin nor proceed without a cleared background check. The two background checks in question were several years old with one background check located during the course of the audit.
The second background check in question was conducted in 2010 and outsourced to another agency during that time frame. LPSS received a document that displayed the background check was cleared for the individual, but did not have a hard copy of the official background check on file. Surety bonds were also noted in the audit. LPSS has an existing crime policy that covers all check signers.
The crime policy is superior to the surety bond, but current law does not reflect changes in existing insurance markets. To be in compliance, LPSS has purchased the lawfully required surety bonds, resulting in LPSS having to pay for twice the coverage and receive an audit finding. At the conclusion of the audit process, LPSS received an unmodified opinion from the external auditors on our financial statements. An unmodified opinion is the highest rating a governmental entity can receive. ### Media inquiries only should be directed to the Office of Public Information.