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State investigation of audit ordered

Rebecca Burk Ellis / L’Observateur / July 27, 1998

LUTCHER – St. James Parish School Board members decided in openmeeting Tuesday to send the audit of the Principal’s Fund at St. JamesJunior High to state Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle for further investigationof questionable expenditures.Thomas Kliebert, the board’s legal advisor, said he told board members itwould be illegal to discuss school audit reports in executive session. Sowhen board president John Schexnayder got to that agenda item, boardmember George Nassar simply made a motion to send it to the legislativeauditor.Nassar’s motion was seconded by Carol Lambert. With no discussion on thematter the board approved it 7-0.”We were told we couldn’t go into executive session last night,”Superintendent Walter Landry said Wednesday. Landry had no other comments on the matter, saying as the newsuperintendent he isn’t familiar with the circumstances of the audit.Kliebert examined the audit and said he doesn’t know why the board wantsto send it to Baton Rouge to be examined.”I saw no legal improprieties, although there was some very sloppybookkeeping,” he said. “I didn’t see any criminal acts.”The audit focuses on the Principal’s Fund, for which money is generated byschool fund-raisers by students and faculty members.Kliebert said according to state statute the money in the fund can be usedon anything from taking a teacher out to lunch or sending flowers to afuneral.”It’s to the principal’s discretion as long as it is related to the school,students or teachers,” he said.But internal auditor Clinton Rouyea said the money must be spent onstudents.”If it is generated by the school it should be spent on the students,” hesaid.Rouyea performed the original audit, and when he got the figures to do ithe also said the guidelines of keeping records in the Principal’s Fund atthe junior high was very loose.”There is a lack of internal control, and that needs to be improved,” hesaid.The reason the audit is being sent to the legislative auditor is becausethere were questionable expenditures, Rouyea said, not commenting onwhat they were.Board member Nassar said he isn’t sure what the legislative auditor willfind during the investigation. “I don’t even know if they’ll find anything,”he said.

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