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Thackston Charter approves latest audit, cites improvement
York Dispatch education reporter Junior Gonzalez brings us up to speed on the closure of York City's Helen Thackston Charter School. Wochit
In the midst of a lawsuit concerning its last three audits, the Helen Thackston Charter School board approved its audit for the previous school year in a meeting Tuesday night.
The vote was unanimous between board members Danyiell Newman, Frank Hawkins, Marcia Glover and Nacole Gaines to approve the audit for the 2016-17 school year.
Board solicitor Brian Leinhauser did not attend the Tuesday, March 27, meeting but was present via a conference call.
"It does show some improvement," Newman, the board president, said of the latest audit, acknowledging she was pleased with the results compared with previous years.
Thackston business manager Thomas Taylor reviewed findings from the audit for board members over the phone.
With four years of audits approved, Thackston and city school district lawyers will meet at a pre-trial conference hearing April 17 in York County Court, according to a court filing on Tuesday, March 27.
Last week, Leinhauser told The York Dispatch he wanted a pre-trial hearing expedited to settle the matter.
"My hope is by the end of April we’ll have had whatever (legal) discovery we will need so that the court can decide whether we have complied with the agreement or not," he said.
Missing records: The independent audit report shows seven findings from 2016 and three from 2017.
Findings from the school's financial statement audit referred to records that could not be located, including supporting documents for paid invoices, expenditures and other recorded transactions, personnel files and student records, as well as a finding of insufficient procedures and policies in place to record and report accounts receivable and payable.
Missing records were the point of contention when Thackston submitted three years of audits to the York City School District on Jan. 31 as required by a dissolution agreement reached last October to close the charter school by the end of the 2018-19 school year.
The district found Thackston's audits incomplete and unverifiable due to the following disclaimer:
"(W)e were unable to verify and test the account balances for receivables, accounts payable, fixed assets, Local Educational Agency Assistance and expenditures because the school was unable to produce adequate records for the year under audit."
The city school board is demanding the school close at the end of the current school year.
The charter maintains that a "disclaimer audit" acknowledging the missing records is still a complete one, and it is in a legal battle with the district over whether the school should be allowed to remain open through the 2018-19 school year.
The audit approved Tuesday night did not include a disclaimer such as those included in audits for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
For each of the 2016 findings, the school noted in the report that it has retained the services of an outside management company, which implemented procedures to ensure future records are properly kept.
Two additional findings in 2016 for the major federal award programs audit noted missing employee files, daily sign-in sheets and payroll and attendance summaries — which again, the school addressed with its outside management company.
Misappropriated assets: For 2017, the audit showed one finding of missing employee attendance documents and one finding of misappropriated assets through disbursements not related to the operations of the school.
An additional finding concerning federal programs referred to the school's failure to submit its audit within the required 90 days to the Department of Education.
The school agreed with both findings and said there is an ongoing review of its policies by its outside management company to correct the findings.