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January 20, 2010

West Babylon UFSD Paid $64,000 in Unused
Leave Time to Employees Not Entitled to It

Thousands of Dollars in Checks Also Signed by Unauthorized Staff

Nearly $64,000 in unused vacation, sick and personal time was paid by the West Babylon Union Free School District to staff not entitled to it, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit, which covered the period July 2007 to December 2008, also found that unauthorized personnel signed checks, hundreds of gallons of gasoline were unaccounted for and no data disaster recovery plan was in place at the district.

“Being very careful with tax dollars means not paying people money they’re not supposed to get,” said DiNapoli. “School officials should have made sure personnel were entitled to this money before it was paid. These are taxpayer dollars and every dime counts.”

The district paid 11 of 14 employees examined by auditors a total of $58,415 for 300 vacation and personal days that they were not entitled to by contract. The former associate superintendent for Personnel and Administration was also overpaid $5,800 for 65 sick days not authorized by his employment agreement. Additionally, the accrual records of seven custodians DiNapoli’s auditors examined had inaccurate vacation leave balances, which, if converted into cash payments, would result in total overpayments of $20,546.

Among the audit’s other findings:

  • Among 30 disbursement checks totaling $154,773, auditors found 13 were signed using the treasurer’s signature disk when she was absent. Although all 30 checks were for appropriate district purposes, 17, totaling $105,815, were issued before the claims auditor ordered the treasurer to pay the claims;
  • Nine wire transfers were not approved in writing before they were made and three of these were initiated by the assistant superintendent for Finance in the treasurer’s absence. This weakness provides opportunities to perpetuate and conceal fraud;
  • A review of gasoline and diesel fuel receipts for July 2008 found that fuel on-hand was 635 gallons less than what should have been on hand on by month’s end; and
  • District managers did not effectively safeguard computerized financial data against unauthorized access or potential loss in the event of a disaster.

DiNapoli recommended that the district:

  • Ensure that employee salaries, wages and fringe benefits are accurately paid by contract;
  • Correctly calculate separation payments in accordance with labor agreements;
  • Review past separation overpayments and recover those dollars;
  • Correct errors in leave records and guard against future errors;
  • Make sure the treasurer maintains control and custody of her signature stamp;
  • Not issue checks without sufficient approval;
  • Establish procedures on how wire transfers should be authorized and who should review and approve them before and after funds are disbursed;
  • Enforce fuel storage and dispensing procedures that limit access to the fuel pumps and periodically inventory fuel stores;
  • Ensure that only authorized personnel have access to financial software; and
  • Develop a comprehensive data disaster recovery plan.

District officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations and indicated they would take corrective action.

Click here for a copy of the West Babylon Union Free School District audit.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will have audited all of New York’s school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services by 2010. The State Comptroller’s Office has completed more than 725 school audits.


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