LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Academy @ Shawnee Athletic Director Harry Vinegar was fired in May after an internal investigation found evidence that he had misused concession stand funds and failed to follow protocols on renting the school’s gym for a fundraiser.

But Shawnee isn’t the only school facing such scrutiny.

The Jefferson County Board of Education is set to consider an internal audit by accounting firm Dean Dorton Allen Ford that examined booster clubs and fundraisers at 10 schools in Jefferson County Public Schools and followed up on hotline tips involving fundraisers and activity funds at others.

The audit’s executive summary says many of those booster clubs lacked appropriate oversight from school administrators and failed to file necessary paperwork such as annual financial statements, budgets and fundraiser approval forms.

The 10 schools that had their booster clubs and fundraisers reviewed aren't publicly identified in the report. Only the audit’s summary is available on the school board’s online agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. WDRB News requested the complete audit Thursday.

The summary also shows that auditors found that those running fundraisers were late depositing money raised, documents weren’t properly completed and, in some cases, money and inventory went missing.

“Several hotline reports, complaints and special investigations relate to mishandling of funds and inventory related to fundraising activities,” Jim Tencza, Dean Dorton’s director of assurance services, wrote in the executive summary. “Bookkeepers must ensure that fundraiser sponsors are aware of and adhere to the Redbook rules.”

The Redbook is a set of guidelines governing school finances.

Shawnee was among the schools audited by Dean Dorton, which found “various significant findings including an employee paying workers cash in exchange for their paycheck.” That was among findings by JCPS investigators, who estimated that Vinegar had mishandled between $2,000 and $6,000 last school year, his first in charge of athletics at Shawnee. The district has wrapped up a criminal investigation into Vinegar and forwarded its findings to Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine’s office for review, according to JCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin.

Auditors found concerns involving fundraisers and activity funds at other schools.

For instance, auditors identified an employee at Male High School who was paid as a vendor with school activity funds and discovered “significant” findings on purchases and violations of JCPS and Redbook policies at Seneca and Jeffersontown high schools.

At Fern Creek Elementary, auditors found a school fundraiser was short $2,858 and that the school lacked controls to safeguard its inventory. The report identified “moderate” violations of JCPS and Redbook policies at Stuart Middle School, including failures to pre-approve purchases and fundraisers, conduct inventory counts, and file receipts in a timely manner.

A review of football and wrestling fundraisers at Central High School found policy violations regarding fundraisers and inventory, and auditors also identified instances at Ballard High School where funds collected from or on behalf of students weren’t deposited in the appropriate account.

Brislin said JCPS has expanded its training to ensure all policies are being followed. That includes sessions specifically for principals on Redbook guidelines and the hiring of a school support technician, whose job is to train bookkeepers and secretaries on Redbook policies, she said.

Brislin noted that Dean Dorton follows up with every school in which deficiencies were found. JCPS has also implemented an internal classification system to improve communication so those charged with correcting deficiencies better understand what auditors are seeking in terms of solutions, she said.  

Some at-risk schools will also see a greater presence of internal auditors, she said.

“JCPS’s internal audit group is reviewing all aspects of the district – from schools, to central office departments, to bus depots, etc. – and conducting audits based on areas of highest risk,” Brislin said in an email to WDRB News. “For example, a large school that has a lot of money flowing through it is more ‘at risk’ than a small school with fewer funds flowing through it, and thus may get an unscheduled audit, or two audits a year.”

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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