Friday, April 27, 2012

Clinton Prairie School Superitendent Exposed in State Audit for Spending Tax Dollars Illegally

Another day, another Indiana school superintendent caught helping himself to tax dollars that don't belong to him.  This time the white collar crimes took place in a small farming community in Clinton County near Frankfort, Indiana, where media watchdogs are virtually non-existent.  Former school board member and farmer, Jim Fisher, Sr., had asked state auditors to look into questionable spending practices in the past.  Perhaps his persistence has finally paid off. 

While some taxpayers in the school district were struggling to make ends meet, Superintendent Charles Fink was taking a limousine ride from a restaurant to a hotel at taxpayer expense during a tax-funded trip to San Francisco.  State auditors also discovered that Fink and three school board members stayed a few extra days at taxpayer expense even though there was no school business to conduct.

In addition, Fink also took $3,000 for mileage reimbursement fees that he was not entitled to.

Seven funds were overdrawn to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, including the Capital Projects Fund for a total of $749,329.  Some of the money was illegally used for the salaries of Extra-Curricular Treasurers in violation of state law.

These were just a few items noted in a recent audit report for the Clinton Prairie School District.  You can access the audit report at this link.

"We noted several deficiencies in the internal control system of the School Corporation related to financial transactions and reporting," began the ten page report. 

Here are other excerpts from the report:

TRAVEL TO SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATION MEETING

In reviewing travel disbursements during the audit period, we noted instances where the expenses did not appear to be reasonable or necessary.  The Superintendent of Schools and three School Board of Trustees members attended a School Board Association meeting in San Francisco in April 2011.  Although the registration stated that the meeting began on April 9th and ended on April 11th, three of the Board members flew in on April 7 and were paid $50 per diem for April 8th on which no meetings were held.  The Superintendent of Schools arrived on April 8th and remained until April 13 and received $50 per diem for April 12th when no meetings were held.  The total additional cost for these payments was $200.  Through the use of the corporate credit card the School Corporation paid for hotel rooms at $248.50 per night for those days when no meetings were being held resulting in a total additional cost of $994.  (Three Board members hotel charge on April 7th at $248.50 per night and the Superintendent's hotel charge on April 12th at $248.50 per night)

Imagine Supertintendent Fink riding in a limo at taxpayer expense
During the San Francisco trip, the Superintendent of Schools was reimbursed $100 for the rental of a limousine for transportation from the hotel to a restaurant.  In addition, one Board member was reimbursed $359.38 for mileage to Chicago, a hotel stay in Chicago, and transportation from that hotel to the airport so he could fly to San Francisco for the meeting.  There was no documentation presented for audit that any School Corporation business was conducted in Chicago during that trip.  We also noted instances where reimbursement were paid without the actual receipt provided.

FEES

The School Corporation, at the time of charging and collecting textbook rental fees, requires other fees to be paid including, but not limited to, Convocation Fees, Report Card Fees, Postage Fees, Processing Fees, and Technology Fees.  The School Corporation officials could not always provide documentation to verify students received consumable goods or services equal to the fee charged...

TEXTBOOK RENTAL CALCULATIONS

The Elementary School is charging more than 25 percent of the actual cost of the textbook annually.

OVERDRAWN FUND BALANCES

Debt Services ($337,327)
Capital Projects ($749,329
Transportation ($336,229)
Bus Replacement ($336229)
Preschool ($141,561)
Retirement ($29,830)
Textbook Rental ($20,700)

PROMOTIONAL APPROPRIATIONS

In reviewing disbursements paid by the School Corporation's credit card, we noted numerous payments for meals at local restaurants and food purchases for meetings.  We noted other disbursements for retirement gifts and meals....

There's more, but the bottom line is that this is all illegal.  This is NOT for the children.  This is stealing from the children.  Taxpayers should demand repayment and accountability.   Will the local prosecutor be bold enough to take on this challenge?

Kara Kenney, this story has your name written all over it.

1 comment:

Jon Held said...

Let me tell you I am shocked by the huge waste in tax dollars you have presented here. But my prediction is that the overall cost to students and the taxpayers of Clinton Co. will be far greater and more difficult to track than those you have reported. The "ideas" that are promoted at these big conferences generally are foolishness. It's these type of events that usually "hatch" the newest and greatest eduicational experiments to be conducted on our children on the taxpayer dime(s).
Jon Held