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Thackston audits: 'Unable to produce adequate records'

David Weissman
York Dispatch

The Helen Thackston Charter School board approved and turned in three years' worth of overdue audits last week, but each report begins with a notable disclaimer from the auditor.

"... (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 notice is atop three separate audits — for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

Failure to complete and turn in those audits by Jan. 31 would result in Thackston surrendering its charter and closing at the end of the current school year, according to the agreement the school made with York City School District last October.

Thackston's school board held a special meeting Jan. 30 to approve those audit reports, compiled by Montgomery County-based St. Clair CPA Solutions, and turned them into the district the next day.

Helen Thackson Charter School board President Danyiell Newman reviews documents during a rescheduled board meeting Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Bill Kalina photo

The board refused to allow public inspection of the reports after its meeting or describe what was in the documents, but copies were emailed to The York Dispatch Friday, Feb. 2, in response to a Right-to-Know Law request.

More:Thackston board OKs long overdue audits, refuses to release or even describe them

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Each report included the disclaimer, in which the auditing firm notes that because of the lack of records, "we have not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion."

York City School District Board President Margie Orr said she hadn't read through the reports, but when she was told about the disclaimer by The York Dispatch on Friday, she responded that "it sounds like the audits are incomplete."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Students return to Helen Thackston Charter School Wednesday with all construction completed. Bill Kalina photo bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Orr previously said that an incomplete audit would be unsatisfactory to her, as would an audit with troubling financial practices.

She added that she would withhold final judgement until she meets with the board's counsel, likely sometime within the next week.

Each report also specifies a number of internal deficiencies, including missing personnel files and student records and a lack of supporting documentation for transactions.

The reports for school years 2014-15 and 2015-16 also note compliance issues with federal funding sources, including Title I grants and the National School Lunch Program.

Thackston officials agreed with all of the auditors' findings, according to their responses within the reports.

Thackston CEO Carlos Lopez, who was hired by the school in early 2017, said he was not authorized to respond to any questions about the audits, and a voicemail message left for board president Danyiell Newman was not immediately returned.

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Thackston's agreement with the district — which was made in lieu of holding lengthy, costly charter revocation hearings — specified that Thackston must close at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

However, the agreement included a provision for the school to close by June 30, 2018, if it could not get its overdue audits complete in a timely manner. The school has a separate deadline of April 1 to turn in a completed audit for the 2016-17 school year.

Lopez has said that audit would commence immediately following the completion of the previous audits, and they would continue with the same firm.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.