DeKalb school audit shows office cuts not made

According to Ty Tagami at the AJC, DeKalb school audit shows office cuts not made.

“A long-awaited forensic audit has been delivered to the DeKalb County school system, and it may help explain why officials there have had to cut so deeply in the classroom.

“Some of the central office staff eliminations the school board ordered in 2010 were not carried out, the audit says. For that and other reasons, the system wound up paying $20 million more than budgeted for central office salaries in fiscal year 2010 and $29 million more the next year, according to the audit, which was obtained by Channel 2 Action News.

“The audit, which was produced by the firm KPMG and leaked to Channel 2 Action News, says the board ordered the elimination of 150 central office positions in May 2010 for an expected savings of $11.5 million. Records from the school system’s finance and human resources departments differ about how many of those jobs were actually cut. Of 109 people listed by human resources as laid off, 56 remained on the payroll in different jobs, either because they were rehired or reassigned, the audit says.”

Click here to read more …

At any rate, although it doesn’t make us happy, it appears that we were right. The 2010 cuts that were approved by the board were never actually implemented by Ramona Tyson and we also must wonder if the 2011 cuts (at least to the administration) have been made by Cheryl Atkinson. The lesson of the day is: The school board is powerless. The superintendents can do as they please.

Nancy Jester once posted a chart making exactly the same point:

This chart shows that not only were the cuts not fully implemented, the budget overages over a 5 year span add up to over $50 million over budget.

The most interesting part to DSW is that the school system apparently refused to release this 31 page draft of the audit. This is an audit that taxpayers paid dearly for and should be available via Open Records, however, system officials are claiming that the accountants’ work is “privileged.”

Isn’t that the lamest excuse ever?

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Click here for the link to the WSB report:

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
This entry was posted in Budget Cuts, Ramona Howell Tyson, School Funding, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to DeKalb school audit shows office cuts not made

  1. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    But Tim, DA Robert James claimed that DCSS can police themselves…. Heads must roll TODAY! Tyson should not be allowed back into the Palace. Ramsey should resign effective immediately. HR needs to be fundamentally transformed, rebooted and every single person replaced.

    I found it amusing that even the auditors had trouble finding minutes of meetings… Sound familiar…..

    Tim you are so right… We are talking about 50 million dollars! Heads must roll! Severe incompetence and-or down right criminal negligence. How many teachers does 50 million get you….WE must change the comfort culture of the DCSS Central Office…..TODAY!!!!!!

  2. AnonMom says:

    The real questions that need to be answered is (1) when does it really get investigated (at maybe a federal level; (2) who really decided not to make the changes (e.g. I really believe that the super. was powerless to make the changes and that other “forces” were at play); (3) where are the real “checks” and “balances” — these are taxpayer dollars and children’s futures on the line… but the only ones being “cared about” are the adults in central office – the problem is that it really isn’t about adult jobs in central office – it’s about appropriate spending of taxpayer money on behalf of the children who are entitled to their futures through the education hat is supposed to be carried on in the actual schoolhouse — the central office jobs are not of utmost importance in this scheme… but that isn’t the way it’s played out. I promise you other things are also at work at other levels as well — it needs more investigating.

  3. Very interesting info about Ramsey and his state committee. FWIW, wasn’t one of the charges against Dr. Lewis accepting tickets to games and sporting events? How is Ramsey’s position different/legal?

  4. @ Atlanta Media Guy: Very good points about Tyson. In addition (and we feel ‘worse’) Tyson presided over the biggest drop in test scores (aka student achievement) in the history of DeKalb schools. There is likely a correlation between that drop and the fact that Tyson’s focus was obviously on saving adult’s jobs in administration as well as beefing up her beloved MIS department. For example: Why we still pay for the DeKalb Online Academy is a complete mystery!

  5. @AnonMom: You could be right about ‘other forces’. Although Tyson certainly is culpable, I do vividly recall Tom Bowen openly promising at a recorded board meeting that no jobs would be lost! This would all be accomplished through attrition.

    In addition – has anyone looked into the supposed projected savings approved in those same cuts for the reductions to the ‘hub’ transportation? We never, ever could see a way for the cost savings to amount to what the board projected. Did anyone even track this?

  6. Max Baerman says:

    It is becoming evident that without a large investigation/legal fund to sue for our own public documents and advocate for good management, we wil not be able to get a hold of these out of control administrators. With the focused effort to maintain the status quo it will take a million dollar+ effort to force the issues and clean house. Withhold a 2nd audit….come on. What a bunch of crooks.

  7. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    The Superintendent is the ultimate authority. I’m sure she gets pressure from the South DeKalb mafia and the Walker 5, but the Super is running the show. The only power the mafia has is “do what I tell you or you’ll get fired”.

  8. psdad says:

    A couple of observations I posted on “the other board”

    1) Pay close attention to the last line in the first paragraph of the cover letter to the report: “We have completed our forensic accounting and investigative services for DeKalb County School District (DCSD or District) as outlined in the May 15, 2012 Engagement Agreement. This report to you represents our final report with respect to our services.

    In my experience, most forensic audit or due diligence reports that are prepared for something other than a transaction or financial reporting purposes, will never go from “DRAFT” formant to “Final”. I have prepared dozens of these reports and marked less than 10 as “final”. I’m sure that this report will never go final.

    2) It appears that the scope of this audit was limited to specific areas of inquiry and the report only reflects observations from sample transactions were pulled from each account and tested or reviewed. Based on the results of this limited audit, if a true comprehensive forensic audit were conducted across all accounts I suspect that the resulting report would contain hundreds of pages of examples of mismanagement and fraud. This type of audit would be extremely expensive too.

    3) The author of this report did not expect it to be reviewed by or released to the public. The document contains grammar errors, spelling errors, and a general lack of rigour that I would expect from a product that had been vetted by a senior audit partner and gone through the typical internal review process.

  9. AJC update on the release of the audit:

    DeKalb County schools release draft audit

    By Ty Tagami

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    DeKalb County schools superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has released an audit that she previously withheld from the public.

    School system general counsel Sutherland Asbill & Brennan advised Atkinson that the KPMG draft audit was “privileged” and not subject to disclosure under Georgia open records law, but the Georgia First Amendment Foundation said the document was a public record.

    On Monday, system spokesman Jeff Dickerson refused to comment about the audit, saying school board members hadn’t had time to review it. On Tuesday, however, after media reports about it, he said Atkinson had decided to release it. It’s available on the school system website: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us

  10. @InsideOut: Getting fired is a substantial threat to a person who knows darn well that they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in you know where of ever getting another job that even paid 25% of their current pay!

  11. Interesting psdad. So, are you saying that this was more or less a “sample” audit? One that focused on a few transactions only? And that the full fledged forensic audit the public ‘thought’ was being conducted most likely is not?

  12. dsw2contributor says:

    “The District does not use the State approved codes to account for federal funds(i.e., Title I and II) which requires a manual reconciliation process to be performed” – Page 15

    The theft of Title-I and Title-II funds is what will ultimately cause DCS employees to be sent to the federal pen.

  13. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Hey DSW! I was talking to a school accountant yesterday. She was very frustrated since DCSD is still using a DOS based accountant software. You got it, software from 1984 is still being used by accountants. No wonder the budget numbers are a mess! MIS has been a failure since Tyson was chosen by Clew to head it. DCSD lags behind in technology by 10 or more years. Hey Ms. Tyson what has MIS used with the millions of dollars, except of course the over built network with nothing to hook on to it. DCSS a complete and utter disaster for 10 years running.

    Now we have new BOE members, one from the inside, Melvin Johnson and a sell out like Marshall Orson, who never saw a deal from Eugene Walker he did not like! We are in the best of hands! What Leaders! Hello local media!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DSW,
    EXACTLY! I just want to be clear that the Superintendent pulls the trigger. Nobody else can give the official order. So, all culpability lies with Ramona and Cheryl.

  15. psdad says:

    Purchase order review – KPMG Sampled 15 records out of 676 transactions that exceeded the $50,000 threshold. 10 out of 15 sampled transaction (or 67%) did not have supporting documentation.

    KPMG only analyzed transfers between specific funds, not the between the fund and the General Fund or the Concentration account.

    The Title I/Title II review revealed instances of cash being transferred between SPLOST III, Title I, and Title II bank accounts. Support could not be located for all of the sampled transactions.

    The 2008 SchoolNet payment of $1,600,000 that was initially paid for from the General Fund was reallocated to SPOLST III on June 30, 2010. Take note of the dates. A 2008 transaction being reassigned to 2010? From an accounting perspective this is an egrigious offense, from a legal perspective this would be seen as compelling evidence of fraud or a cover-up of some type.

    and more to come I’m sure…

  16. Sent out via email at 4:52 pm today (November 14)

    November 14, 2012

    NOTICE ~ DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION GATHERING

    In keeping with the State of Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, this
    notification is to advise that members of the DeKalb County Board of
    Education will participate in a meet and greet at 5:00pm, Thursday,
    November 15, 2012
    in the Cabinet Room in the Robert R. Freeman
    Administrative Center at the DeKalb County School System’s Administrative
    & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone
    Mountain. While a quorum of Board Members may be present, no official
    business will be conducted.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Eugene P. ‘Gene’ Walker, Chair
    DeKalb Board of Education

  17. anon says:

    Remember — there was a 2004 audit that was never released and then officially buried under Dr. Lewis. Upon lots and lots of questions being asked — it disappeared. Dr. Brown was “bought off” for 150% of his salary approximately 15 months before his contract would have expired pursuant to terms. That audit showed that folks were mostly overpaid. They are, now, seriously overpaid and this is after the biggest recession since the 1929 crash. This isn’t rocket science. Perhaps something somewhat sinsiter at taxpayer expense but not rocket science.

  18. teacherwantingachange says:

    Does anyone know anything about the open records request for Atkinson’s text messages? According to an AJC story on Monday, the board approved paying for a lawyer to read Atkinson’s texts messages to determine which ones are required for the request.

    And what in the world is this “meet and greet” tomorrow?

  19. Concernedmom30329 says:

    My understanding about the text messages is that it is related to a lawsuit against the system. Are there any attorneys out there who can tell us how to find a listing of current suits that have been filed against the system? I think it is public record. I know once I was trying to go to a divorce hearing of a friend in Fulton, many years ago, and I could find the case, courtroom, judge etc on line.

    I also wonder what the meet and greet is.

  20. AnonMom says:

    its pretty normal for lawyers to review things like text messages and e-mails before they are “produced”… (this is just and fyi — not really commenting one way or the other).

  21. dcssfrustratedparent says:

    I heard an interview on NPR yesterday afternoon with Chairman Gene Walker who said “the audit is incorrect about the Central Offices cuts not being done, I saw the documents so that is one thing that needs to changed in the draft”. I find it very sad that he just can’t come to grips with facts. The audit shows there are huge cost overruns so Gene – if not the staff cuts – why was DCSS over budget so much. It appears clear that financial account / record keeping is a shambles for this billion dollar enterprise.

  22. Oh! He saw the documents? Looks like an Open Records Request is due! We would like to see the documents Gene is referring to that prove that the Central Office cuts were made (and that those folks weren’t rehired).

  23. Funny isn’t it? They schedule a public “meet and greet” but only publicize it via email just over the 24 hour minimum requirement. And, we’re hearing that not all of the board is able to attend anyway.

  24. Concernedmom30329 says:

    It is really a public meet and greet, or is it for some group or another and because the whole board will be there, they all have to be.

  25. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Walker and his consistent denials is a huge problem for DCSS.
    The significant issue with the text messages is that Atkinson would not use one of the three counsels that DCSS already pays. Not Alexander and Associates, not Sutherlin and not Ron Ramsey. She wanted someone outside the system. More money folks, more money.

  26. The BIG question is “What are they looking for in Atkinson’s text messages and what would be in those messages that Atkinson could not risk DCSS attorneys seeing?” Frankly, it seems like Atkinson’s request should have been denied and Atkinson should be paying yet another law firm on her own dime.

  27. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Time for Dr. Walker to retire! I to would love to see the documents he speaks of. This is why Tyson should not be allowed in the Palace and her email and cell accounts closed. I sure have been impressed with Mr. Turks work as CFO. You think he is ready to blow the whistle on the Ramsey-Walker enterprise………. stay tuned…….

  28. We are now hearing that this is a meet and greet for the board to meet the members of the SPLOST IV oversight committee…

  29. Cedar says:

    Disgusting.

  30. insider says:

    The reason why texts are a big issue for Atkinson is that is how she communicates. She is notorious for not reading or responding to her emails. She also doesn’t want anyone to see how she speaks to her staff. Like the rest of her inner circle, she treats everyone like dogs.

  31. It would be really helpful to have Atkinson’s cell phone number. Anyone know it? If so, are you willing to share with DSW at our e-mail: dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com

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