Auditor General DePasquale Questions Paying Former Lehighton Area School District Superintendent to Sit at Home

Superintendent was considered full-time employee with no official duties
January 07 2014
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Auditor General DePasquale Questions Paying Former Lehighton Area School District Superintendent to Sit at Home

Superintendent was considered full-time employee with no official duties

HARRISBURG (Jan. 7, 2014) — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today announced the release of an audit that questions why the Lehighton Area School District, Carbon County, paid its superintendent to stay home with no official duties while it paid a consultant to run the district’s day-to-day operations.

Auditors found that the arrangement to pay two people for the same position cost taxpayers $46,490 – $29,840 to the former superintendent and $16,650 to the consultant.

“It appears the school district paid the former superintendent to stay home while it paid someone else to do the day-to-day work,” DePasquale said. “This change in leadership should have been implemented in a way that didn’t potentially take any money away from classroom education.”

Lehighton Area School District allowed the former superintendent to work at home with unclear duties as he used his vacation and personal days after he retired in March 2012. The former superintendent remained a district employee with full benefits until June 30, 2012, though he had no dealings with daily operations, attended no meetings involving school personnel and was not involved in on-going contract negotiations. The district paid the consultant $450 per day, plus $30 for mileage per day until July 1, 2012 when the consultant became the acting superintendent.

DePasquale said the arrangement may have violated Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) regulations because it appears the former superintendent was a part-time employee, not full-time. However, the district continued to report his wages to PSERS as though he was still a full-time employee. PSERS should review the issue to determine whether the $29,840 was ineligible for inclusion in the former superintendent’s pension calculation, he said.

In the audit report, school officials note that the former superintendent fulfilled his duties as required by state law and was accessible to the district via phone or email as he used his accrued vacation and personal leave days.

The district had no other audit findings for the review period, Jan. 29, 2010 to March 5, 2013.

The Lehighton Area School District had 2,480 students, 194 teachers, 126 full-time and part-time support personnel and 15 administrators in the 2011-12 school year when it received $13 million in state funding.

The department’s Bureau of School Audits examines the records of school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and area vocational-technical schools. The audits assess whether school entities received the state subsidies and reimbursements to which they were entitled, accurately managed taxpayer funds, and complied with ethics codes. The audits also determine whether teachers and administrators were properly certified for the positions they held during the audit period.

The Lehighton Area School District audit report is online at: www.PaAuditor.gov/audit-reports.

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