TESD Auditor to Attend Finance Meeting Monday, Dec. 9 – Will the Public Receive Answers to $1.2M Accounting Error? Some Taxpayers are Suggesting Fraud & Cover-Up!

As the T/E School District launches its $40 million high school expansion plan and new parking lot, there remain unanswered questions and concerns about the District’s finances and budget process – particularly the unanswered status of the $1.2 million accounting error.  Six months ago the school board voted 6-3 for the District to take responsibility for the accounting error and to correct the audits and annual financial reports for 2016-17 and 2017-18 years.

At the Finance Meeting on Monday night (7 PM TEAO), the District’s audit report and updates is on the agenda and will be presented by Auditor Donald J. Pierce, CPA and partner at Maillie, LLP. Former school board President Scott Dorsey previously assured members of the public that they would be able to ask the Auditor questions directly – it is assumed that newly elected Board President Michele Burger will honor that commitment.

Since the District’s accounting error was first identified in early 2019, residents in the community, including financial professionals, have attended meetings, asked questions, voiced concerns and followed up with emails to school board directors. To date, there have been few answers.

In advance of the finance meeting tomorrow, one of the community’s financial experts Neal Colligan sent me an email detailing specific concerns/questions re the District’s accounting error. Neal is convinced that the accounting error was intentional on the part of the District (I read this to mean the Business Manager) and wants to know specifically when the Auditor learned about the error. It was previously established that the Administration did not tell the school board of the accounting error.  Neal states the following in his email –

The Administration has always maintained that the Auditor was aware of this timing error when the decision was made (by the Business Office) to post them in the wrong year.  Some of the Board has parroted the same story.  On April 22, 2019; the Superintendent read a statement into the record that included, “once the invoices were found, they were booked, according to GAAP, in the 2017-18 year…” and that this information “was shared by the auditor at the time..”.  On August 26, 2019; the District Solicitor wrote this statement of Fact: “concurrent with the processing of the invoices and recording of the expenses in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the District informed its independent auditor of the found unpaid invoices….” and “the independent auditors verbally advised that the invoices did not meet their test for materiality…”

Over the course of the last year it was apparent to the public that some members of the school board were not interested in the correction of the accounting error (remember three members of our school board opposed the vote in June).  It appeared that they expected the public to quit asking questions about the accounting error; probably in hopes that the problem would just go away. The good news is that Neal and others in the public may finally get the answers from the Auditor tomorrow night!

Aside from simply “doing what’s right”, why should this error in the District’s accounting be important to the school board (and the taxpayers)?  Neal answers that question here –

The Auditor is hired by, and works directly FOR, the Board.  They are reviewing the Business Office and their internal controls.  Mistakes or break-downs in controls MUST be reported directly to the Board (by the Auditor if the Administration does not share with the Board as in this case).  The Auditor has NEVER mentioned this “timing error” in their Management Letters report to the Board; they will certainly address it THIS year.

An audit is an expensive (cost of the audit) check on the Administration.  IF the Administration is not honest with the Auditor, this important control does not exist.  There’s plenty of written evidence that this accounting error was engineered by the Administration and that they never informed the Board or the Auditor.  If that’s the case: this is extraordinarily dangerous to the Community.

Board Members must then consider the likelihood that this has happened before and assure that it does not happen again.  An audit can never catch Management Fraud.  The reason is obvious; Management can commit the Fraud and then cover it up.  Did this happen here?  If so, the Board needs to take serious action and remove the individuals who engineered this financial mis-statement and non-disclosure.

There are plenty of documented statements like the ones above indicating those involved in this saga and (???) cover-up.  The timing of the Auditor’s “notice” of this November of 2017 event is a critical piece of information.  The Board wants to be trusted by the Community, can they trust their Administration/Solicitor?  Maybe we’ll find those answers when the Auditor speaks.

Here’s hoping that Neal is able to help to find the community’s needed answers from the Auditor at the Finance Committee meeting!

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44 Comments

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  1. The vote to correct the error was taken in June. Kyle Boyer, Roberta Hotinski and Todd K. were the three Directors who voted no to correcting the error.

    Why did it take until Dec. 9, 2019, after the November elections that resulted in the ouster of the only two Directors, Kate Murphy and Ed Sweeney, who asked questions and held the Administration somewhat accountable, to address this very, very serious issue?

    Do you trust that the Auditor will be truthful? Will you be able to tell if they’re not truthful? Do you believe that they canceled coming to report last month because they really weren’t prepared and didn’t have the information? I don’t.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    The business manager was asked by a school board member to have the auditor attend a meeting after the board voted to have the District correct the error. At a subsequent meeting, the business manager said that the auditor was unavailable. Then we move to November when historically the auditor always attends and again he is not available (or the story this time was that the audit was not ready). The public will never know for certain what happened but IMO, the auditor was conveniently TOLD not to attend these meetings (presumably by the business manager who knows exactly what happened). TE School District is the client and the auditor is told when to come to meetings, not the other way around. As a CPA and partner in his firm, I have no reason to believe that the auditor will lie or cover-up what has happened. Assuming that members of the public are permitted to to ask the auditor questions, I believe that the truth behind the $1.2 million accounting error should unravel itself.

    [Reply]

  2. Why isn’t Arthur Anderson around anymore? The reason for the financial collapse was the accountants. They colluded with their clients instead of holding them accountable and reporting accurate numbers.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    I understand your point! However, I’m going to believe that Maillie LLP (www.maillie.com) did the audit based on what was presented. As Neal says, “There’s plenty of written evidence that this accounting error was engineered by the Administration and that they never informed the Board or the Auditor.”

    [Reply]

    Neal Colligan Reply:

    Hard to believe,

    It’s not necessarily the Auditors fault. Management has an obligation (Contractual) to report errors. On 11/29/17, the date of the audit report in question, District Administration issue a Management Representation Letter to the Auditor. This was their last assurance (in writing) that their were no undisclosed errors on the District’s side. That letter was signed by the Superintendent and the Business Manager…it did NOT disclose this issue!

    I’m not sure how much of an “expert” I am BUT I do have audit experience with a school district in PA. My first job out of college was with Touche Ross (public accounts) and for 3 years I was on the audit team for the Abington School District. I think that’s relative experience.

    I too hope the Board allows some Community questions to the Auditor….only a few are needed and they’ll be quite to the POINT. Trust is a precious and delicate thing…once it’s gone-it takes a long time to re-establish. The SB takes $125,000,000 out of our Community every year in local taxes….TRUST is critical.

    [Reply]

  3. Maybe they waited until December 9, 2019 because the Administration knows people are busy and preoccupied with Christmas plans and activities and aren’t paying attention to what is going on with the accounting error and efforts from knowledgeable, experienced citizens to make sure it gets corrected.

    The Board negotiated in secret and in private with no taxpayer input and behind closed doors with the teachers union and granted them raises on top of their already outlandish bloated salaries, in record time, yet it takes 6 long months to get Mallie to come to a meeting to ask questions about a very serious matter like this.

    I planned on going to this meeting last month before Mallie canceled saying their audit wasn’t ready. Like so many, I have Christmas time plans I can’t miss. I don’t believe their excuse that their audit wasn’t ready last month.

    I have been in meeting after meeting with Administrators and presented iron clad evidence to them to back up my statements. They tell you to believe that what you are presenting, hearing and experiencing is not really there or happening. They tell you to believe the words you are reading don’t really mean what they in fact mean.

    We’re in this mess because there is no accountability. The Administration is in complete control. This culture will continue until the Board stands up to the Administration and holds them accountable for their responsibilities and their actions.

    [Reply]

  4. As a part of every audit the auditing firm (Maillie) sends a Management Letter to the school board summarizing their findings after the conclusion of the audit. As part of that Letter the auditor is obligated to document every misstatement whether material of immaterial. See the graphic below. The “$1.1M of lost invoices” certainly falls squarely in the category of a misstatement that should have been prominently noted in the “attached schedule”. It was not! The important question is, “Why not”?

    1) Was it an oversight by the auditor?
    2)Or was it because the lost invoices were not disclosed to the auditor?

    If the former then the auditing firm should be fired. If the latter then the board has a big problem with their Business Manager. The school directors should be the ones closely questioning the auditor and the Business Manager to determine accountability.

    [Reply]

  5. I really don’t get why our school board believes everything that comes out of the business manager’s mouth, the ultimate spin doctor extraordinaire! As taxpayers, we deserve better and ask that you restore our trust.

    [Reply]

  6. We now pay in SCHOOL TAXES alone $34,053/year in Easttown on 1 residential acre of land (even after trying to appeal it – which the School Board rejected – and my neighbor pays $17,000… the taxation issue is a whole other matter that needs fixing). Anyway, I met with Kate Murphy, learned all the details she’d uncovered and understood the complexity of the error and the incompetency in the management team and it is sickening. The error increased our taxes by $2,000/year, and once the dust settles there’s not a chance the taxes will go down… We need full transparency and accountability and REAL CONSEQUENCES for those in charge. I look forward to learning what is discussed tonight. Thanks to those who keep us informed.

    [Reply]

  7. Many thanks to Neal, Pattye, Keith and others for expert analysis and focus on this issue.

    Does anyone else find this statement from the Auditor, included in the now revised 2016-17 audit, COMPLETELY MIND-BOGGLING? (Technical term).

    NOTE P – SPECIAL EDUCATION EXPENDITURES
    On August 26, 2019, the Board of School Directors passed a resolution to revise the 2016-2017 fiscal year financial statements to report an additional $203,022 of special education expenditures originally reported in the 2017-2018 fiscal year financial statements. These expenditures were for services performed in 2016-2017.

    AN EXPLICIT RECOGNITION THAT THE BOARD CAN NOW PASS RESOLUTIONS TO DECIDE WHEN TO REPORT EXPENSES!

    How might bond-holders react to this? Note that tonight the Finance Committee is going to hear options for the next round of bond financing.

    [Reply]

    Easttowner Reply:

    Ray,

    Thank-you for this information.

    I’m interested in hearing about the meeting last night and I would also appreciate further comment on your comment above:

    AN EXPLICIT RECOGNITION THAT THE BOARD CAN NOW PASS RESOLUTIONS TO DECIDE WHEN TO REPORT EXPENSES!

    This brings being able to do whatever they want to do to a whole new level.

    Why would the Auditor agree to this? Is it legal? Even if it is legal, is it ethical? Is it the right thing to do? Was this information revealed in last nights agenda or was it reported in Aug/September? Thanks.

    The Administration has a very long history of writing policy that is designed to benefit them and protect them from taking responsibility for bad actions and behavior.

    How many of you can go to work and sit down and make up rules that shield you from taking responsibility for bad actions and bad behaviors and then have your bosses back you up by passing resolutions that support the bad actions and bad behavior?

    What message does this send to our taxpayers, parents and children?

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Indeed, a whole new level. I pushed the auditor for an opinion as to whether this is OK, but got the same shoulder shrug that Neal reports below. We know why the Board resolved to only partially fix the error – otherwise PDE authorized spending would have been exceeded – but surely the auditor has a professional responsibility to call attention to this? And BTW, there have been many, many statements during this whole debacle about PDE’s inability to sanction school districts. (Also, it was reported that the revised AFRs have been submitted.)

    Other news from last night:
    Budget: The District’s preliminary analysis indicates that they are not eligible for Act 1 Exceptions for 2020/21, so the maximum tax increase, absent a referendum, will be the Index 2.6%. (I’m not even going to report the first pass budget deficit number, beyond noting that it includes 13.5 additional staff).
    Bond options: A good, very preliminary, look at the district borrowing needs, capacity and options from possible financial advisor PFM. Really important turn of events: to have someone in the room with a fiduciary duty to the district and to have an informed discussion that goes beyond “the market is going up/down; it’s a good time to borrow $30 million”.

    [Reply]

    Easttowner Reply:

    Ray,

    Yes, the Auditor has a Professioal responsibility to call attention to this, just like the Board has a tax payer responsibility to hold the Administration accountable, just like the Administration has a community responsibility to serve students, parents and taxpayers.

    They’re all in this together—- Mallie, the Board, and the Administration.

    I agree with Keith 100%. If the Board wanted Ed Furman at the meeting, Ed Furman would have been at the meeting. The Board has demonstrated their true colors —who they support and who they WORK for throughout this whole mess——-and it’s not taxpayers, students and parents. The meeting was a show, an orchestrated, rehearsed play with Michele and Todd in starring roles.

    The action ——On August 26, 2019, the Board of School Directors passed a resolution to revise the 2016-2017 fiscal year financial statements to report an additional $203,022 of special education of expenditures originally reported in the 2017-2018 fiscal year financial statements. These expenditures were for services performed in 2016-2017——-says it all. They don’t care about right or wrong, they don’t care about integrity, dignity and character that they preach about to kids in schools yet model just the opposite to in real life which in reality teaches kids to adopt a cynical attitude and a “I’m going to get mine” mentality. It’s disgraceful. We deserve better. Our kids deserve better.

    This sends a terrible message to our students. It sends the message that rules don’t matter. If the Administration isn’t held accountable and is allowed to change rules they don’t like and make up resolutions to cover their bad actions along the way, why shouldn’t students do the same? This is the culture in our District that leaves kids, parents and taxpayers feeling helpless and powerless.

    Once again the Board is protecting and shielding Art and the Administration from their bad behavior and bad actions. And the Accountant is shirking their professional responsibility to hold the Board and the Administration accountable.

    Why do we have a Board? Why do we have an accountant?

    Thank-you Neal, Ray, Carol, Mike, Doug, Keith and especially you Pattye.

    You’re our only hope.

    ****Keith, were you at the meeting? Sounds like it from your comment. If not, is there a tape? If so, I’d like to listen to it. Can someone get a copy for me?

  8. We missed the meeting yesterday and wondering what happened both with the audit and the tracking system. Would appreciate any updates from those who represented. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    An update just came in from Neal Colligan on the meeting and his comment is going up next.

    [Reply]

  9. Last’s night meeting with the Auditor and the discussion of the 2017 accounting error was thoroughly disappointing to both the Board (although I can’t speak for them) and the members of the Community who had questions.

    The key question for the Community was “When was the Auditor told of the mistake?”. As the partner present was new to this engagement, his stock answer (to this and many questions) was “I don’t know, I wasn’t there”. This is plausible but not to the satisfaction of anyone. The Board wanted some confirmation of the sequence of events told to them (and the public) by their Administration: a discussion took place on this issue between a Junior account and the District Controller in November of 2017. Of course, this representative of Maillie has no knowledge of that conversation AND it can’t be verified today as both the District Controller (at that time) and the un-named Junior accountant no longer work at their respective jobs. The Public wanted to know WHEN the Auditor was informed of this accounting error. While the Maillie partner did not contradict the two letters sent to the District by Ed Furman (the former Maillie partner on the engagement) he had no more to say as to the timing of “notification”. On this issue (timing of notification), the Maillie written correspondence seems clear: In April of 2019 letter and in the October of 2019 letter . The Board seemed confused by these two letters and kept raising the issue of a Clean Opinion from the Auditor….this was mentioned in the April letter .

    The new Board President wanted a new letter from Maillie stating (and I’m not sure what was the instruction, very confusing and the Board is invited to clarify here, please), that the District’s Opinion are clean in all these cases…or something to that effect. The Partner was not aware of any professional audit format under which he could issue such a correspondence. My Board Hero in this saga continues to be Scott Dorsey. Even without a deep financial background, Scott asks questions about audit process, the relationship between the auditor and the Board, and expresses some of his frustration that the audit firm could not help the Board with some of this understanding previous to last night. I believe that he is on the right track (as usual) and is trying his best to resolve some of the mess this has created….he’s a community treasure (IMHO-but no one listens to me).

    Unsatisfying for all! What we do know is what we knew prior to last night. In the fall of 2017, District Administration booked $1.139 MM of 2016-17 expenses in the 2017-18 fiscal year. They filed AFR’s with the State including this error. They did NOT inform the Board (and by extension: the community). Their decisions are the Genesis of all this rancor, the need to re-file State ARF’s, the $10,000 cost to re-state prior year’s audited financial statements, and the strained relationships with the community.

    [Reply]

  10. I attended the Finance Committee last night (9th) and experienced the same old double talk from District Management. I felt sorry for the new account auditor who had to take all the VERY tough questions from those who attended.

    Michelle Berger is obviously very upset with the auditors (maillie) and I think specifically upset with Mr Furman of Maillie who is ducking the meetings. I hope the take-away from last nights meeting is the BOARD demanding that Furman meet directly with the BOARD without the District Management in a private setting to get his side of the story. I tend to believe that
    the Business Manager is culpable in what has transpired in some small or large degree.

    Let’s settle this matter NOW—and not wait until the next meeting—-where we could get a report from the BOARD—-and not the administration.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Oh, I would interpret it differently as to whether Furman is “ducking the meetings”. If the board wanted him at the meeting he would be there. If the board wanted answers to questions he could do it in writing or in person. Furman could have been invited to any meeting earlier in the year. Michelle could invite Furman to any future meeting to clear things up. The evidence tells us that he wasn’t invited by design and won’t be invited.

    How many times did you hear Todd say, “the audit was clean” when it wasn’t? How many times did you hear Art say, “The community just doesn’t understand” when ducking responsibility?

    The board is trying to shield themselves, the business manager and their triple A bond rating by inviting someone who has no knowledge of the lost $1.1M invoices.

    [Reply]

  11. This has all the earmarks of a collusion between the Accountant and the Administration.

    Unacceptable for Mallie to send a partner who can’t answer questions.

    This is what Mallie is supposed to do. Have the information at the ready at all times. They know all the answers to the questions. Its clear the Auditor works for the Administration, not the Board and certainly not the community.

    Fire the Auditor and fire the Supt. and the Business Manager.

    [Reply]

  12. OK, bottom line, has the mistake finally been corrected? If not, why not? Seems the correction needs be made, if not already, and go forward since everyone is going around in circles, despite good efforts. AND THEN, keep a tight watch over the administration, the business manager and the auditor. Personally, the superintendent and the business manager should have been let go long ago. Give them both stern warnings…they are not above being held accountable…and then wait until they screw up again, because history tells us they will, and then fire them both.

    [Reply]

  13. I did not include this above…since I write in long-hand. We did find out the the Auditor will re-write their ’16-17, ’17-18 Management Letters to the Board. These letters will include (I assume following Auditor professional responsibilities) the District’s break-down in internal controls (lost invoices) and the Auditor’s comment/disagreement with Management’s financial presentation (they only fixed $203 K of the $1.139 MM error). We’ll be able to see these through an RTK request (I hope, we’ve gotten these letters previously). As far as I know, this will be the first documented break-down in the financial controls at the District and the first disagreement with the Auditor.

    Of course, as I understood it from the meeting. the Board will wait until January to “accept” their Audit….the Management Letters likely won’t be written until after that date. Hope that’s not too technical….

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    Thanks Neal — it is beyond ridiculous that residents have to continually file right-to-know requests for information that should be readily available to the public. School board, all the public wants is T-R-A-N-S-P-A-R-E-N-C-Y — you were elected to represent US, the taxpayers.

    [Reply]

  14. Don’t dismiss Maillie as corrupt yet. The full story is yet to be heard.

    We have not yet seen the full revised audits from 2016-17 and 2017-18 when the accounting cover-up was made. We have just seen a few pages selected by the administration. Of interest are the first few pages where the auditor offers his/her opinion.

    But even more interesting will be the revised Management Letters for 2016-17 and 2017-18 that will be sent from the auditor to the Board when the revised audits are complete (January). This is where Maillie has the chance to redeem themselves and address the lost $1.1M invoices. The board has not publicized these letters in the past, but, if necessary, they will be made public via a Right to Know Request.

    Remember that the auditor Mr. Furman never knew about the lost invoices until well after the audits were complete and said so in writing. So, it’s understandable that the auditor never commented on same. But now he does know and let’s see what he says in the revised Management Letter.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    Thanks Keith — and yes, it looks like the only way that the public will fully understand what has happened is by filing right-to-know requests with the school district. And in case anyone reading these comments may not know, the District’s Public Information Officer is the Business Manager (Art McDonnell). Yep, all roads in T/E School District lead to the business manager!

    [Reply]

  15. Like I said, the meeting was a show……an orchestrated event to give the appearance they, the Board, were going to hold the Administration accountable, when in fact, the evidence shows they were working along side and with Art and the Administration the entire time.

    As Keith says, Ed Furman was not invited to the meeting and not invited to the meeting by design. It is insulting to the highly educated, extremely smart citizens in this community to put before us a Mallie accounting partner with absolutely no knowledge of the issue and who mostly answered, “I don’t know” when asked questions that would have gotten to the bottom of this mess in minutes had Ed Furman been sitting in his seat. They don’t want to get to the bottom. They want to provide a safety net for Art and the Administration (again) and that’s what is happening.

    There is no accountability. There never was accountability (for the Administration) and this behavior is endemic in the Districts culture which will continue until the people in charge (the Board) stand up and do the right thing by the taxpayers, parents and children in this District.

    [Reply]

  16. Sounds like the parties just talked in circles and over the passage of time the issue becomes tired and stale.

    Members of the Board should feel like fools – I know I sure would. Up to them whether they want to prevent that from happening again to them or not.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    This comment is on the mark. To the very last sentence, one data point from last night’s Facilities Committee:

    A student and her mother asked – super respectfully – for a reaction to a proposal made at the last meeting to approve an audit from “Green Restaurant” (I think I have that right), an outfit that recommends food service and other practices to become more environmentally responsible. The CHS Greening Stoga club has apparently raised money for this. The District had taken no action in the intervening month, and were dithering about setting a timetable for a response even now. So President Burger says “I can’t set a timetable for the high school principal and food service director” or something like that.

    THOSE PEOPLE WORK FOR HER!!

    Until that mindset changes, what hope is there for community oversight of our school district?

    [Reply]

  17. It is astounding when attending meetings to learn just how little the Board Directors know about the operations in the School District. They know very, very little and it is shocking. You also learn that many Directors have little to no relationship- working or otherwise- with the Administration. This is accepted as normal by both sides. Directors do not assume a position of authority in relation to Administrators. It is clear the Administration is in full power and control and they tell Directors what and how it’s going to be. Directors routinely abdicate their authority to the Administration.

    Letters written to Board Directors are answered in some of the following ways:

    The Administration says…..
    Talk to an Administrator
    I’ll tell Mark, Mike Rich, Wendy, Chris to call you.

    They are trained to think and behave in a way that makes them completely subserviant to the Administration and they believe this is normal and correct. It is very, very strange.

    [Reply]

  18. On the other hand, the Administration is very chummy with the Solicitor, Ken Roos, and the Architect and other vendors they’ve been working with a long time.

    Before and after meetings, Ken and Rich can be seen off to the side yucking it up, back slapping and enjoying each other’s company. It’s clear they’re very good friends. I’ve been paying attention 8 or 9 years so Ken Roos has been around at least that long and the Architect has been working with the District much longer. I remember attending a committee meeting soon after Ed Sweeney was elected to the Board. The Architect felt extremely comfortable talking down to him, in a bullying tone and manner that sent the message to Ed and all Directors that it was he who was in charge……not Ed. I couldn’t believe no one said anything. It’s no wonder the Board doesn’t understand that they are in charge and not the Architect, Solicitor and Administration.

    When Board Directors are humiliated, minimized, made fun of and bullied, especially in public by Administrators and Vendors, Directors have to stick together and let them know in no uncertain terms that they are the boss and in charge and that this behavior won’t be tolerated. The same goes for the public. When Directors (Todd) shout at citizens in a loud intimidating bullying manner, the public must band together and support each other and let Directors know this treatment will not be tolerated.

    In theory, tax payers and citizens are supposed to have the ultimate authority and influence. Directors in theory are supposed to serve us, the taxpayer and the Administration is supposed to work for Directors. In TE, it’s reversed. We all work for and at the pleasure of the Administration.

    Read the Policy handbook. Research salaries, healthcare and benefits for teachers/Administrators. Observe how parents and taxpayers are allowed to be treated and talked to in meetings.

    You will quickly see who is in charge.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    To clarify, Daley & Jalboot Architects were the District’s architects for many, many years.(If memory serves me, the principle in the firm was retiring and moving to Florida). In late 2017, Heckendorn Shiles Architects was chosen as the District’s architects and this is the firm that has designed the Conestoga High School expansion project.

    [Reply]

    Easttowner Reply:

    As the Administration says:

    Thanks for the clarification.

    [Reply]

  19. I know it’s a minor matter by comparison but for parents still a big thing. Did they approve or give a timeline for approval/disapproval of the tracking on the buses? The PPT looked loaded down as a no with incomplete research on the only system compatible with the current buses (didn’t even name the school districts). The full page of “cons” were nonsense.

    [Reply]

    Concerned taxpayer Reply:

    TE Parent,

    Given the major problems with busing this year, your concern is not a minor matter. Student safety and well being is supposed to be the most important thing but you wouldn’t know it given what the Administration/Board pay attention to and focus on instead.

    Parent led initiatives are slow played and bogged down in committee meetings for months and sometimes years (Litteracy Committee) while Initiatives that benefit the Administration/teachers (salary increases we pay for) sail through in record time with no public input or view.

    We are guided by a pompous bureaucratic Administrative system that treats us like we are not important and our concerns don’t matter.

    Your concern is important. Your children’s safety matters.

    [Reply]

  20. There was a presentation by Karen Henry, the District’s Transportation Manager. The Board and public had questions and comments about tracking and its challenges as well as about specific vendors. The due diligence is in the early stages and it seems the options will be reviewed at least once more in Finance Committee meetings before any decisions are made.

    [Reply]

  21. The TESD Board meeting two nights ago (January 6th) had no progress on the auditor-administration issues discussed rather fully above in community comments. There was, however, a Finance Committee report given at the Board meeting.

    Previous to the November Finance Committee, the Board I believe made clear it wanted the principal auditor for TESD, Ed Furman from Maille, to show up to explain what occurred directly to the client (the Board/TESD). Mr. Furman did not show at the designated November Finance Meeting. Instead, a surrogate showed up from Maille who had no direct knowledge of the circumstances and did not have authority over this issue at the time. The community heard nothing that we did not hear before. Thus, our Board asked for a direct report regarding a matter involving the public trust and did not receive it.

    The report on the November Finance Committee at this meeting could have laid out in a much better fashion the resulting strong community concerns that were expressed in the Finance Committee meeting as well as the several rather direct comments by the current Board President, Michelle Burger, and the most recent Board President, Scott Dorsey, on the issue. Mary Garrett Iten also expressed some well-considered thoughts at the Finance Committee meeting.

    This post is by a former Board member and not necessarily the opinion of the TESD Board or the TESD Administration

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    Thanks for your comment Ed. I hope that you will continue to stay engaged as your background and experience on the school board is very helpful to the community!

    [Reply]

  22. Ed,

    Thank-you for your comment. I am disappointed, to say the least, that you and Kate Murphy are no longer serving on the School Board. Like Pattye, I hope you and Kate will continue to stay engaged. Your backgrounds, knowledge and experiences can be helpful to the community more than ever now.

    You are free. Please use this valuable opportunity to speak out and advocate strongly for students and taxpayers. Thank-you for your service.

    [Reply]

  23. As stated earlier by Keith Knauss and others, if the Board wanted Mallie and Ed Furman to attend the Finance Committee meeetimg, Ed Furman would attend the Finance Committee meeting. The Board, including Michele Burger, Scott Dorsey, Mary Iten and all the rest don’t want Ed Furman to attend a Finance Committee Meeting. If they did want him to attend the meeting at any time, he would be there. Mallie is in on it with the Administration and the Board and this is exactly how the financial collapse in 2008 happened. When accountants collude with their clients…..this is what you get. Arthur Anderson is gone. This is why.

    The Boards actions show they want this to go away. The Boards actions show they will continue to protect and shield Art McDonnell and the Administration no matter what — logic, reason, evidence and proof are not important because the Board doesn’t care to hold the Administration or Mallie accountable.

    Go by their actions, not their words.

    Ed, I appreciate your service and your willingness to speak out for what is right. Could you please shed some light on why you and/or Kate didn’t call Mallie and demand that Ed Furman attend a Finance Committee Meeting. Thank-you and I look forward to hearing from you a lot more in the future.

    I could not attend the December Finance Committee Meeting. For those who were there, did New Board Member Stacy Stone say a anything , ask a question or indicate she would hold the Administration accountable in any way? Stacy is a retired teacher in the TE school district. She told me she knows about the operations of the School district more than any Board Member serving…..and I’m sure that’s true…..from a teachers perspective. She told me she has no problem holding the Administration accountable for this accounting mess. Did she say anything?

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  24. In response to the question, “Could you please shed some light on why you and/or Kate didn’t call Mallie and demand that Ed Furman attend a Finance Committee Meeting.”?

    An individual board member has no power to demand anything. He/she has no more power than a typical citizen. Only a majority of the board can force action.

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  25. Thank-you Keith.

    The majority of the Board voted to correct the accounting error in June. It was never corrected. If what you say is true, why wasn’t it corrected?

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    Keith Knauss Reply:

    The accounting error was corrected. Revised audits have been received and filed for the two fiscal years in question. That said, the board never held anyone accountable for the debacle because they never investigated the cause. The board cold have gained valuable information from the auditor (Mr. Furman), but failed to demand his attendance at a board meeting. Instead the board settled for the attendance of an alternate accounting firm partner who knew nothing of the audits in question. And they conveniently delayed his attendance by a month to a meeting when Kate and Ed were off the board and replace by two novice school directors.

    The tendency would be for the auditor and the district to hide the problem. Neither will look good. Only the taxpayers gain by holding the appropriate people accountable, but the school board has made no signs of wanting to investigate further. I agree with what you said earlier:
    “The Boards actions show they want this to go away. The Boards actions show they will continue to protect and shield Art McDonnell and the Administration no matter what — logic, reason, evidence and proof are not important because the Board doesn’t care to hold the Administration or Mallie accountable.”

    But we may yet get to hear Furman’s viewpoint in a document called the Management Letter. This is a letter from the auditor to the board listing any undisclosed problems with the audit. I should certainly have it within a month; maybe on Monday.

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    Pattye Reply:

    Thanks for this explanation — I’m sure it was helpful to not only the individual whom asked the question but to others reading Community Matters. When you receive the management letter, I hope that you will share it with us. Here’s to the letter “answering” questions rather than creating new ones.

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    Actions matter....words don’t Reply:

    I hope you’re right – I hope we hear Mr. Furman’s view point in the Management Letter but I highly doubt Mr. Furman will mention the undisclosed problem in any meaningful way. The School Board has shown no signs of wanting the cause of the accounting error to be revealed to taxpayers.

    Mr. Furman, Mallie, the Administration, and the Board have had over a year to give an sccount for this debacle. Their actions have demonstrated over and over that they’re not going to reveal anything to taxpayers who would benefit from the information.

    Below I list the backgrounds of a majority of our current and new Board Members:

    A social worker
    2 Ministers
    2 TE teachers
    And a TE Administrator

    How can we possibly expect any different treatment than we’re getting.

    My prediction is taxpayers are in for a very long next 4 years and unless some citizens with qualified backgrounds and right party affiliation at the time, come forward and run and win at the next election cycle, this is what we’re going to continue to experience.

    For all of you taxpayers who went to the polls in November and voted against Cornell educated, parent of 3 in the District and background qualified Kate Murphy,—— and top tier school educated, TE parent and successful attorney Ed Sweeney, ——. I strongly urge you to attend committee meetings and get involved so you can understand the consequences of your actions.

    Because your actions matter—-for all of us.

    [Reply]

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