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Audit: Hempstead S.D. has myriad of problems

A scathing report from the New York State Comptroller's Office was released Monday regarding "questionable" financial decisions in the Hempstead School District. The 50-page audit report uncovered

News 12 Staff

Dec 30, 2014, 8:04 AM

Updated 3,439 days ago

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Audit: Hempstead S.D. has myriad of problems
A scathing report from the New York State Comptroller's Office was released Monday regarding "questionable" financial decisions in the Hempstead School District.
The 50-page audit report uncovered "a myriad of systematic problems" between July 2011 and March 2013. Among the key problems, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said the audit "revealed a pattern of wasteful spending, poor decision-making, sloppy record keeping and a lack of transparency."
According to the audit, current Superintendent Susan Johnson was overpaid by a total of nearly $33,000 for the 2012-2013 school year.
The comptroller's report says one of the reasons why she was paid too much was "inaccurate instructions" provided by the former board president to the payroll department. School board minutes from those months show Betty Cross was the president at that time. The audit questions why Johnson never notified the board that she was getting too much money.
The audit also found deficiencies in the district's personnel practices. A total of three of the 23 employees reviewed were not qualified for their positions. In one case, an assistant coach was hired in 2012 even though the employee's temporary coaching license had expired in 2010.
According to the comptroller's office, the school board repeatedly excluded the public from deliberations by calling "special" or "emergency" meetings, often with very little notice. Many of those meetings were held in the superintendent's office, where there is no public seating. The report also found that the board went into "executive sessions" at inappropriate times.
Current School Board President Lamont Johnson said many changes have already been put in place to correct issues in the audit.
"As board president, it's my job to make sure we're fiscally responsible," Johnson said Monday night. "I'm concerned about the taxpayers and the amount they pay...We're doing everything we can to make sure the money is being spent wisely."
The attorney for Betty Cross said neither he nor she had any comment on the audit. The State Attorney General's Office said it hasn't seen the report yet.
The Nassau District Attorney's Office said it is currently investigating the Hempstead School District and is aware of the audit. They had no comment for News 12 about the report.
 


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