Auditor dings schools in audit

Coupeville School District officials didn’t get straight A’s on its most recent audit.

In a report released last Thursday, Washington State Auditors Office found that last school year, the district failed to get proper documentation for one employee, who works in the special education program.

The district receives a mix of state and federal funds for the program and, per federal regulations, the district must provide certification and document hours expended to that fund.

Denise Mehal, business manager for the district, said the certification consists of a form signed by the employee saying that he or she does, in fact, work in the specific program.

“Without proper time and effort records, the district is unable to substantiate the accuracy of $24,624 of salary and benefits charged to its special education program in a manner required by the grantor,” the audit report states.

However, the auditor was able to substantiate the use of the funds through other means, including verbal confirmation and references to the employee in meeting agendas and case load reports.

“As a result, we are not questioning costs,” the audit report states.

The auditor found no issue with the district’s process, but said that the error came from a staffing issue.

“The district has a process in place to obtain the required time and effort documentation,” the audit report states. “However, staff turnover in key positions during 2013 caused the District to deviate from its normal process, resulting in failure to collect the required documentation from the employee.”

Mehal started in her position on July 1, 2013. Superintendent Jim Shank started officially in June 2013.

The error occurred due to a communication issue between Mehal and another employee.

She said they talked about the certification and just didn’t communicate properly who was taking care of it.

“It’s just one of those things that fell through the cracks,” she said. “Our procedures are fine, we just need a more heightened awareness.”

An additional audit report was released Monday for the district.

The accountability report included review of payroll procedures, financial condition and compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

That audit came back with no additional findings.


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