DiNapoli: Chappaqua SD Did Not Competively Bid
Contracts or Obtain Required Background Checks
The Chappaqua Central School District did not adhere to state law when it made $455,000 in purchases without competitive bids and did not obtain criminal background checks for 26 independent contractors, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“Competitive bidding requirements are designed to ensure that school districts don’t pay more than necessary for goods and services,” DiNapoli said. “By not adhering to these requirements, school districts may be unnecessarily wasting taxpayer dollars. And not performing criminal background checks could put children at risk. Chappaqua needs to start abiding by these requirements.”
General Municipal Law requires school districts to solicit competitive bids for purchases in excess of $10,000 and for public works contracts in excess of $20,000. While the law does not require competitive bidding for professional services, it does require school districts to adopt written policies and procedures for obtaining professional services.
DiNapoli’s audit, covering July 2006 through October 2007, found the district failed to competitively bid $455,000 in purchases from 11 vendors that required competitive bidding. The audit also found the board failed to adopt written policies and procedures for procuring professional services.
Auditors also determined the district did not comply with its own policy requiring written contractual agreements with professional service providers, including $348,000 for special education services from 29 providers.
State law requires that all employees and independent contractors who have direct contact with students must have criminal background checks including fingerprinting. Auditors determined the district did not perform criminal background checks on 26 out of 41 independent contractors who had direct contact with students.
Auditors also learned the district did not ensure that claims from special education providers were properly reviewed. In one instance, a physical therapist was paid $194,000 for services that were not supported by proper documentation.
The audit recommends that school officials:
- provide proper oversight and ensure that the district’s purchasing policy is followed;
- amend its purchasing policy to address procurement of professional services;
- ensure the district has written and signed agreements in place with professional service providers;
- ensure that all claims have proper documentation and are properly reviewed; and
- comply with Education Law and obtain criminal background checks on independent contractors.
The district generally agreed with the audit’s findings and its full response is included in the audit.
School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s 834 school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and charter schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 400 school audits and approximately 200 school audits are currently underway.
Click here for a copy of the audit.