Dayton Public Schools is never at fault

There is something very wrong with this front page article in the Dayton Daily news today:

The gate receipts from five Dayton Public Schools home football games over the past two years are missing, according to an audit the school district completed this year. DPS internal auditor Randall Harper says $9,209 in cash ticket sales from four games last fall “has been misplaced,” with no documentation that the deposits were ever picked up. That led Harper to review the 2014 season as well, where he found a fifth missing deposit, bringing the total to $14,312. Asked if there could be even more money missing, because some documentation was improper or missing, Harper said the audit didn’t test all athletic department receipts, so “that may be a possibility.”The district is investigating to determine how the money went missing and who was involved, but there were mixed signals from district officials Friday. Harper said he has “no clue” where the cash went, saying that’s part of the probe led by Jamie Bullens, DPS director of safety and security. Bullens was not in the office Friday, and Harper said police are not involved at this stage.

But school board President Adil Baguirov said two employees have been identified as being “primarily responsible” for the missing money. He did not identify them by name. “No one has been fired so far. It takes a certain time to complete the full investigation and have all the details,” Baguirov said. “I think the primary responsibility is with the (athletic) department. That would be the first line of defense. Secondary would be the treasurer’s department. And after that, all the way to the school board, because that’s where the buck stops.”

…Dayton Public Schools Director of Athletics Jonas Smith on March 4 announced his resignation, effective this summer, citing a desire “to serve as a district athletic director at the building level,” rather than running a six-high school district. Both Smith and Baguirov said the resignation was not tied to Harper’s audit. Baguirov said Smith was not pressured to leave, and Harper said the athletic department was “very cooperative” during the audit.

“This is really unfortunate and I wish it wouldn’t have happened. We’re putting procedures and systems in place so it won’t happen again,” said Smith, who last year served as president of the OHSAA’s board of directors. “As district AD, I don’t handle athletic funds, but I have many employees who do. The procedures and systems that I inherited 11 years ago seemed fine. Nothing ever looked suspicious to me.

”Asked Friday whether the missing money was the fault of the athletics department, treasurer, school board or others, Harper said, “There’s a wide variety of people who could have noticed the missing deposits.”

David Lawrence, DPS chief of school innovation and Smith’s direct supervisor, said no one has been fired, demoted or reprimanded in the case. Lawrence called Harper’s report professional and unbiased, and said it presents an opportunity for DPS to get better, as it considers dozens of applications received for Smith’s AD post.

“There is significant interest in this job,” Lawrence said. “We are looking forward to taking the next chapter in Dayton Public Schools athletics and moving on in a positive direction.

”‘New sheriff in town’

Baguirov said the audit is a validation of the school board’s decision to hire an independent auditor, at a salary of $98,000 per year, reporting directly to the school board.

“We anticipated that we’ll be able to find cases like this, and by intervening early we’ll be able to recover the money, and also send a very strong message that business as usual is not going to happen any more,” Baguirov said. “Anybody who is a potential fraudster is put on notice that you can’t do this. You have a new sheriff in town in the form of the internal auditor.”

Baguirov acknowledged that DPS’ reputation will take a hit among some with this news, but he hoped that more would see internal audits as a positive step. “Now we’ll be able to prevent it almost completely. We’ll be able to give a 99.9 percent assurance that(fraud) is not happening,” Baguirov said. “We do want to be the best district we can possibly be. That’s not BS. It’s not just something we’re saying.”

Source: Dayton Public Schools looks for missing money

First, the fact that fraud was possible, says a lot. Where are the controls? Where were they?

Secondly, even if we don’t know who did it, we do know the chain of command, and apparently several were asleep at the wheel.

But, ultimately, while Baguirov says the buck stops with the school board- their combined pay doesn’t equal that of the superintendent, who is the person in charge.

That person, Lori Ward, isn’t really in charge right now anyway, with a contract in flux. This too is the board’s fault. Their indecision has the entire district in limboland.

In the grand scheme of things, $14,312 is rounding error for the district. And spending $98,000 to hire an auditor to find this theft sounds ludicrous, but, the real question is: Can the people who allow things like this to happen, be trusted to spend at least $20 million on the one-to-one computing initiative?

In the meetings I’ve attended as a member of the Technology Steering Committee, I’ve yet to see a cogent basic description of the products they are purchasing, the sources sought, the rationale for their choices or the projections of continuing costs. All things that would be the norm in the business world. And, we’ve not even begun to discuss the training needs for teachers in the classrooms or disposal strategies at end-of-life, or expectations for students’ achievement with these new tools.

This city, this school board, this region, abhors strong leadership. For whatever reason, we rebel against anyone who steps up with a vision without a herd of followers. The sign at the city limits should read “Welcome to the Dayton Region” (because we can’t associate ourselves entirely with the central entity despite it being the only thing on the map that counts) “Iconoclasts not welcome.”

The Dayton Public Schools are horribly broken. There is no clear-cut vision to take us anywhere but into state receivership. There is no one willing to call anyone out for their failing at anything from poor test scores to lost funds. It’s almost a joke that Baguirov claims there is a new sheriff in town, because the auditor is really only a deputy, and like Barney Fife, is only trusted with one bullet. Let’s hope this wasn’t the best he could do.

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