City Auditor finds flaws, fraud at Richmond schools

Posted at 5:40 PM, Oct 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-29 16:13:46-04

RICHMOND, VA. (WTVR) - The way the Richmond Public School (RPS) district hires and pays employees needs oversight and the process could be wasting big money, according the Richmond City auditor.

CBS 6 reporter Catie Beck has a copy of a report that has not been made public yet, which also details the auditor’s recommended changes. This newer school board voted to allow City Auditor Ummesh Dalal access to the school system to conduct an audit. One had not previously been done by Dalal because the school system had its own auditors.

Dalal started by saying that better payroll transparency is needed; who is on payroll and what they are getting paid.  He noted that RPS staff was not even able to provide basic information for the audit, such as exactly how many people work for the school system.

The report also said that the way the district hires employees without contracts is concerning and opens the door for favoritism, waste and fraud. It details that many times individuals or schools are given hiring authority that goes out of sight of the school board.

In some instances principals and directors are making decisions on hiring without following the proper process, which has resulted in the hiring of at least one person with a questionable criminal history, and those who are ineligible for rehire.

"There's just a lot of uncertainty for parents and the track record is not particularly strong," said Richmond parent Beth Bortz.

Bortz claims the report comes as no surprise. She's been asking questions about her daughter's bus driver credentials since the first day of school.

"The bus driver made some comments about feeling insecure about driving the route since it was her first day driving a bus," said Bortz.

Bortz sent emails to the school board who passed her complaints to central office.

"I’ve still really gotten no response as to whether the bus driver was qualified, was credentialed,"  said Bortz.

Additionally the auditor noted instances of employees being reimbursed for unearned over-time, and said that the employees may also be using unearned leave time because of bad record keeping.

School board members will be discussing the results of this audit at this week's meeting.