Columbus City School State Audit
Updated: Thursday, April 4 2013, 05:30 PM EDT
COLUMBUS – (Release from Columbus City Schools) The Ohio Auditor of State recently completed the annual audit of Columbus City Schools. While the District’s audit is unqualified and reflects continuing improvement in many areas, there are matters of concern in the Auditor’s report. The most significant is the Audit Finding concerning student attendance reporting, or average daily membership. The audit report states that the information was inaccurate and that some employees have not followed District policies. The audit recommended that the District establish specific, formal procedures and appropriately document attendance events. The Auditor of State is also conducting a special audit regarding this issue, in which a report with specific findings and recommendations has yet to be issued.
Well before the Annual State Audit Report was issued, the District has taken significant steps to improve the accuracy of its student attendance data by:
- Reestablished an Attendance Accountability Team;
- Establishing of a protocol for student attendance data to be reviewed at the senior leadership level on quarterly basis;
- Created and implemented strict access protocols for data entry into student records;
- Implementing a new student information system (Infinite Campus)
- Requiring additional staff training for secretaries regarding data entry and documentation requirements;
- Developing a Central Enrollment Center in which all enrollments and withdrawals will take place in one location;
- Developed a new fraud hotline and formal District Whistleblower policy;
- Established a Withdrawal Documentation Checklist; and
- Reviewing other attendance reporting measures that can be taken within the District.
It was more than a year ago that the Superintendent first brought her concerns relating to student enrollment data to light, requesting assistance from the Auditor of State and the Ohio Department of Education regarding what she found specific to the District’s enrollment data.
“The District has consistently had audit results that were free of any material findings or findings for recovery, however, the FY2012 audit revealed two specific items for action,” said Gary L. Baker II, Board Member and Chair of the District’s Audit and Accountability Committee. “Of the numerous accounts, systems, and processes reviewed by the State, the FY2012 Audit notes two items that are considered to be a “material weakness,” – items in which the District has already taken steps to correct.”
The first item identified was largely a result of a theft by one of the District’s Area Treasurer’s. This theft was uncovered internally, by the District’s Treasurer’s Office, and was reported to the Auditor of State as part of the District’s investigation. The second item was related to ensuring purchasing approvals were documented for federal grant purchases. This item is also being addressed.
“A team of highly-skilled auditors spent several months reviewing tens of thousands of accounts and documents, as well as carefully evaluating and testing the District’s processes and internal controls as they relate to federal and state laws, District policy, and principles outlined by generally accepted accounting principles,” said District Treasurer, Penny Rucker. “The scope of the audit covers the District’s $1.3 billion budget, including all federal, state, local, enterprise, and grant funds.”
“The District acknowledges and accepts the findings of the Auditor of State, and further acknowledges that while the overall audit results in many respects were good, we do not feel that these specific results meet the high standards that should be expected of us – or that we should expect from ourselves,” said Baker. “We have already begun to address all of the items through a corrective action plan that have been identified in the FY2012 State Audit, and these corrective measures are being monitored through the District’s Audit and Accountability Committee. We will also continue to work closely with our Internal Auditor’s Office to improve and refine our internal processes and systems.”
Columbus City Schools, established in 1845, is the state of Ohio’s largest school district, serving the needs of more than 51,000 students in 116 schools. The District is under the leadership of its 19th superintendent, Gene T. Harris, Ph.D., and a seven-member board of education. The mission of Columbus City Schools is that each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community.
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