Audit raises red flags on school district’s payroll, vendor payments

<p>The early findings of a new audit are raising questions about how an embattled school district has spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and whether its policies and practices are legal.</p>

News 12 Staff

Apr 30, 2018, 9:36 PM

Updated 2,217 days ago

Share:

The early findings of a new audit are raising questions about how the embattled Hempstead School District has spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and whether its policies and practices are legal.
News 12 Long Island obtained a copy of the preliminary findings of the audit, performed by the public accounting firm Plante Moran. In a 24-page report, auditors raised more than a dozen red flags about payroll practices and vendor payments during the 2014 to 2017 school years.
The findings include 295 payroll payments to former employees, 25 employees with no birth dates on file or questionable birthdays, "unusual trends" in vendor payments such as duplicate payouts to the same vendors, and payments made on weekends, as well as "significant amounts of overtime pay."
Michael Cohen, a former Long Island school superintendent, was showed the findings by News 12 and says they defy legal explanation. He notes that the alleged questionable spending uncovered by the audit comes at a time when students in the district are still learning in portable trailers.
"Whose needs are at the top of the list here? Is it the needs of the students, or the needs of adults who seem to be using the district as an ATM?" questions Cohen.
Hempstead School Board members Gwen Jackson and Maribel Toure pushed for the initial audit, but since the preliminary results came back in January, they lost their majority vote on the board. They say the new majority stalled on approving more money for Plante Moran to finish its investigation.
"Three months passed since they stopped working, and in those three months, the business manager was suspended, the business office was moved, all the records were packed," says Toure. "We don't really know if they're going to find all the evidence."
"The money is going somewhere, and that's what we're trying to find out," Jackson says.
The school board voted at its last meeting to pay the firm $100,000 to complete the audit.
A spokeswoman for the district tells News 12 that it is cooperating with the audit and will be providing any documents needed to substantiate or refute any findings from the preliminary report.


More from News 12
Family lawyer: 6-day search at Heuermann home appeared to be focused in the basement

Family lawyer: 6-day search at Heuermann home appeared to be focused in the basement

2:44
Partly cloudy skies and possible stray storm Sunday on Long Island; showers likely for Memorial Day

Partly cloudy skies and possible stray storm Sunday on Long Island; showers likely for Memorial Day

1:44
Remainder of Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach canceled due to ‘poor weather conditions’

Remainder of Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach canceled due to ‘poor weather conditions’

0:30
Police: Good Samaritan rescues 3 people from boat fire in Great South Bay

Police: Good Samaritan rescues 3 people from boat fire in Great South Bay

2:53
2024 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach: What you need to know

2024 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach: What you need to know

Guide: 2024 Memorial Day Parades on Long Island

Guide: 2024 Memorial Day Parades on Long Island

0:27
Police: 2 motorcyclists hospitalized following collision with Amazon van in Roslyn

Police: 2 motorcyclists hospitalized following collision with Amazon van in Roslyn

1:50
Officials: Multiple crews respond to small explosion, fire at Valley Stream home

Officials: Multiple crews respond to small explosion, fire at Valley Stream home

0:36
Memorial Day parade makes its way through Island Park

Memorial Day parade makes its way through Island Park

2:08
Blood test that detects colon cancer close to receiving FDA approval

Blood test that detects colon cancer close to receiving FDA approval

1:52
170,000+ pour into Jones Beach for aerial spectacular feats of Bethpage Air Show

170,000+ pour into Jones Beach for aerial spectacular feats of Bethpage Air Show

0:24
Police: Manhattan man arrested, accused of taking photos up woman’s skirt in East Farmingdale store

Police: Manhattan man arrested, accused of taking photos up woman’s skirt in East Farmingdale store

0:45
Police: 2 suspects face charges for robbery, assault at Hicksville smoke shop

Police: 2 suspects face charges for robbery, assault at Hicksville smoke shop

1:52
Record crowds of over 106,000 watch practice show of Bethpage Air Show

Record crowds of over 106,000 watch practice show of Bethpage Air Show

1:59
 Multiple vehicle crash shuts down Roosevelt road for hours

Multiple vehicle crash shuts down Roosevelt road for hours

2:21
Long Island beaches open for the summer

Long Island beaches open for the summer

0:27
Man arrested in hit-and-run that seriously injured University of Albany student from Floral Park

Man arrested in hit-and-run that seriously injured University of Albany student from Floral Park

0:27
Brentwood man found guilty of fatally stabbing his cousin, trying to kill victim's girlfriend

Brentwood man found guilty of fatally stabbing his cousin, trying to kill victim's girlfriend

News 12 Book Club

News 12 Book Club

2:42
Garden Guide: This is why you should grow Geraniums this summer

Garden Guide: This is why you should grow Geraniums this summer