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Sunday, November 6, 2011

In the 10/26/11 Clarkston News, there was an article about the district qualifying to apply for the "ASBO International for the Certificate of Excellence" award as a result of the Plante and Moran financial audit.

However, it was discussed in the 10/10/11 CCS school board meeting that the P&M audit only analyzes a very small part of the financial operation of the district.  My understanding from the discussion and the audit results in the board packet, was that it is mostly just on the district's reporting - making sure that the district records the correct expenses and income under the correct descriptions, puts those amounts in the correct slots on the financial statements, ensures that any "material" (huge dollar amount) violations are investigated and reported on, and that proper certifications of employees are earned and evidence of the certifications are in their personnel folders.

If the dollar amounts of "issues" don't meet P&M's dollar clip level definition of "material", then apparently, the district can do whatever they want (with relation to what P&M audits).  Therefore, the audit results do not report that the district is squeaky clean and that they are handling all of their finances correctly.  P&M specifically said in the audit that they have very specific and limited tasks in the audit and that outside of the requirements for those tasks, that they are neither obligated to comment in their findings nor investigate them.  That is why the obvious violations of financial policy and inappropriate use of school funds that I brought to the district and the auditors prior to the audit were not reported on the audit results.  P&M either doesn't consider the dollar amounts "material" enough, or that the violations were outside the focus of the audit...  Based on that, I personally consider the audit "results" and the district's "award" to both be meritless and useless. 

I believe that the district needs an auditor that actually "audits" the district's finances rather than window dressing it with a meaningless award that makes the district "look" to be doing things properly.

I asked for a forensic audit of the district at a board meeting about 18 months ago and that request was ignored.  I believe it is long overdue. 

Here were my comments during the 10/10/11 meeting:

  1. I am disappointed in the results of the district audit by Plante and Moran.
    1. Following finding significant violations of district policy and improper coding of charges to the district purchasing card through my FOIA requests that I have brought to the attention of the board and nothing was done with it, I submitted an email to the lead auditor prior to the start of audit to request that the audit analyze:
 i.      the use of the district purchasing card by one teacher who allowed three other people to use her purchasing card,
 ii.      account coding of trip expenses for an extracurricular group that were charged to district educational account codes (vs. the group’s account codes) by the same teacher,
 iii.      and the district not following policy in regard to obtaining multiple bids, and/or not obtaining board approval for large purchases as mandated by policy.
    1. The audit did not address any of the items I brought forward to Plant & Moran.
    2. The audit noted that the district had policies and administrative guidelines in place regarding the use of district purchasing cards.  However, the district website does not reflect that the district has any administrative guidelines for the use of the purchasing card.  (Even by today, 11/06/11).      
  1. On the organization chart in the 2011 audit on page 100 of the board packet, I found many interesting things as compared to the October 8th, 2010 org chart I have from last year. 
    1. There are many changes in titles and the apparent staff shown from 2010.  Although there have been no requests from Administration to the board for new employees or promotions for employees, there are many changes in titles.  However, the board must approve "Administrative, Instructional and Non-Instructional Staff Changes" in an open meeting. 
 i.      Although the Superintendent has advised that there is a pay freeze on all of the employees of the district, the titles of several positions have changed since the 10/8/10 org chart, I suspect that the pay for these individuals have also increased, and the Board of Education has not been asked to approve promotions or been asked to approve raises for these individuals:
1.       After only one year in the position and several Human Resources issues in this audit, the 2010 "Director of Human Resources" is now the 2011 "Executive Director for Human Resources and Communications".
2.       The 2010 position of "Supervisor, Assessment, Research, and Evaluation" with a secretary working under her in 2010, is now the 2011 "Chief Academic Officer" with "subject area coordinators, State and Federal Programs, staff development, student data management, and program evaluation" under her.
3.       The 2009 "Communications secretary", became 2010’s "Community Relations / Communications" person, and 2011’s "Communications Coordinator”.
4.       There is a new position in 2011 called "Executive Director of Operations".  I am not sure who is in that position, but the position did not exist in 2010. 
5.        Have the promotions resulted in pay increases for any of those employees?

After the 10/10/11 CCS board meeting, the steward for the CCS teachers union, came over to me and asked me why I had not come to him with information on the teacher that I had reported to Dr. Rock and Plant & Moran that I believed had misused the district purchasing card.  This is what I did:
  • emailed it to the board and the superintendent over a year ago and commented about it during a board meeting at the same time,
  • I brought my findings to the Finance Committee in the beginning of March, 2011,
  • It was included in my letter to Dr. Rock and Mrs. Lieblang in a letter with full details on March 18, 2011.
  • I also emailed it to Plante & Moran August 2011 before the audit.
Dr. Rock said after I sent the letter in March that he would address my concerns internally, but that he was not going to report back to me on what was done.   I told the union steward I expected that the teacher had taken quite a hit for all of the things that she did.  The union steward advised me the teacher had not been reprimanded at all, because if she had been, it would have come through him as the union steward.  I was incredulous! 

Based on this, apparently Dr. Rock did nothing with my information.  So much for "he'll handle it internally".  I am assuming that he apparently "handled" it into the circular file under his desk.


  1. You don't think that the administrators who advocated for all non teachers, non administrators to take substantial 10-20% pay and benifit cuts then were the unjustly promoted to positions they are not qualified for and then given LARGE raises with public funds? I cannot believe that those individuals would tell their employees that now during the "perfect storm" we all have to do more for&with less, and then go negotiate a sweet deal for themselves to do less with&for more? Does the Executive Director of HR and communications still work from home numerous days a week, does the Executive Director of Operations who was full time salary before this promotion @ 85K, work part time salary for $60 and has someone with his former title doing that job for less? No way

  2. Has the district broken the law? If not they are doing a great imitation of the city of Detroit! Daring anyone to shine lite on their actions.

  3. Looks like an imitation of the City of Detroit, Wayne County government, Detroit Public Schools, etc... We'll see if laws were broken when my FOIA documents are received (if they are ever supplied by the district)...

  4. WOW as aparent I have to say I am no gtting a little suspicious. Why would you not take this oppurtunity to show how clean you community schools are? I would think this would be a priority for the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of Human Resurces and COMMUNICATION to earn her new salary!!!!!!If she got a raise with her new title it would appear she is unqualified to do the job. It's not wonder that the position was filled internally, no one from the outside would come into this position and drag their feet like that, unless there was a substantial amount of spin that needed to be put on this information, or the information didn't exist and needed to be created, maybe recreated? HMMMMM, promotion pay increase but no results. Typical Administrator!

  5. Hey check out Mr. Westly Goodmans new salary on the website, it's sure not what was published a couple years ago in the Clarkston news (85K), he must be stellar at taking money from his subordinates to pad his own pockets! This lack of response doesn't inspire alot of confidence in our community schools, seems to run like a business... squeeze the little people at the bottom and reward the people at the top for being so good at it! I bet the reward is for being better at working the system than the janitors union!!!!

  6. 11/19 Anonymous,

    I can answer the question about Wes Goodman's salary. He is now on a job sharing contract with Orion Schools. Half of his employment expenses (including salary) come from Clarkston Schools and half from Orion. When they started that contract in October of 2010, he received a 20% raise in his salary. However, because it started in October and the report reflects 2010/2011 data, the Transparency Salary Report shows his base salary is $102,668 (3.5 months at his old salary and the rest of the year at his new salary), when his contracted salary starting in October 2010 was actually $108,202.80.

    However, the Transparency report currently on the district website shows for the 2010/2011 year, he also received $7,200.00 in "car/mileage". His contract did not allow for a car allowance... The contract approved by the board for his new position specifically states that he is to be "reimbursed for 600 miles per month according to the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines". At 600 miles a month and IRS mileage rates of $0.50/mile for 2010 and $0.51 for the first six months of 2011, that totals $300/month for 2010 and $306/mo for the six months of 2011. That does not total the $7,200.00 listed for his "Car/Mileage" amount from the Transparency Report.

    However, contrary to the State's requirement to show "Medicare wages" (all income received from the district before any subtractions), the report shows "base salary" instead... The district has a note that shows that the amount equals "base salary plus longevity earnings". Therefore, any bonuses, awards, etc. would not be reflected in the "base" income reflected on the report. I have addressed this with Anita Banach and Dr. Rock multiple times and they continue to say that they are following the requirements (no matter that I can point out the requirements on the State documents) and continue to only put the "Base" salary instead of "Medicare Wages".

    I should find out when I get my FOIA documents what Mr. Goodman's current salary is as well as his "Medicare Wages for last year.

  7. I would like to see all school districts in the state be required to post all information from board packets online unless it is part of a closed session that is limited to very few things by law. Many school also send board packets to there members each week that are not available for viewing. This is an attempted to avoid transparency. If you really want a challenge take these on at a state level and get a law enacted.

  8. 11/27/11 Anonymous,

    I will agree that all districts should be forced to post their board packets online.

    However, I have too much to do as it is to take on state level issues. I am working on transparency at the local level...

    Thanks for the input. If you would like to help, contact me.

  9. 11/27/11 Anonymous,

    CCS tried mightily to hide the board packets from the public for a long time also. The board packet was only available to those who officially asked the superintendent's secretary for a copy of it.

    As it is, the board packet is usually posted late Friday afternoons or early Monday mornings for the Monday evening meetings and then the district usually changes the board packet within a couple of hours of the start time for the meeting. They don't necessarily include potentially controversial subjects and will frequently not include the detailed BAR forms showing what the district's intentions are, nor what is being discussed. Documentation for presentations is usually missing from the board packets.

    Although there is an expensive overhead projector system (purchased in the last bond project approved a few years ago) installed in the board room that could easily show the board packet information/documentation behind the board, it is normally only used for presentations that are usually not in the board packet.