|Updated: 6/09/2011 10:51 pm
||Published: 6/09/2011 11:52 am
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones today released an investigatory audit of Broken Arrow Public Schools. The audit, which was requested by the Attorney General’s Office in late 2010, outlines several allegations of competitive bidding act violations and malfeasance by public officials.
A second audit of Broken Arrow public schools reveals possible misconduct from past board members; the audit provides answers finally regarding an investigation that started nearly three years ago.
Fox 23's Jamie Oberg breaks down of what the state Attorney General found so far.
Two violations point to the district not handling public bidding properly.
However, the audit goes on to say neither was intentional, but that staff members weren't trained properly.
Both the superintendent and a local business man thought to be involved are happy it’s almost over.
“It's a blessing actually, now we know what it's like to be attacked and have your friends, family and god stand beside you,” Mike Rampey said, standing beside his business in Broken Arrow.
“Air Assurance” was thought to have been favored by the school district over others on contracts.
“It dispels a lot of rumors and lies and accusations about us, and our company,” Rampey said. “This confirms that we've known all along there's nothing to it a bunch of rumors and things like that."
Rumors like an intentionally set fire at one of his storage units, containing documents and receipts from broken arrow public schools.
"This report comes back and proves that a lot of that was a bunch of junk,” Rampey said.
The Attorney General checked and cleared BA schools of 14 out of 18 allegations against them.
"It may surprise you to hear me say this but today; is a great day to be a Tiger,” BA Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said.
Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall and Rampey are relieved and pleased...so far...but the AG's office isn't done with its investigation.
There are two more things the AG’s office is still looking at in this investigation.
The superintendent says he doesn't want to speculate on what those are, and doesn't know when to expect the results.
He does know how much all of this is costing him...$40,000-approximately the cost of one teacher’s salary for a year.
There will be a public forum at the broken arrow education center Monday night at 6 p.m. Families and businesses will be able to address the current board members about the audit results.
Former Broken Arrow superintendent Jim Sisney filed lawsuits against former board members for defamation.
The lawsuits were later dropped.
Sisney was terminated, in 2008 and is now the Sperry schools Superintendent.
AG's statement cont... The audit is the second review of Broken Arrow Public Schools by the state auditor and was requested by the Attorney General’s Office after an initial audit was deemed unsatisfactory.
The investigative audit covers multiple areas of interest between July 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Following a thorough review, the Attorney General’s Office found possible criminal violations in at least two areas – open records and special favoritism for vendors. The AG’s Office will continue a criminal investigation in these areas, and pursue those criminally responsible, if warranted.
The 84-page audit is the result of months of work by investigative auditors from the state auditor’s office.
“We’ve been working diligently to complete this audit since taking office on Jan. 10,” Jones said. “A report of this type seeks to answer numerous questions. Auditors identify possible violations of policy or statute, and offer recommendations to assist the public entity in improving its internal practices to better safeguard public assets. I am confident in our findings.”
An investigatory audit or “18f” is requested of the state auditor by the attorney general to assist the attorney general in an investigation. Unlike regular or other financial audits, 18f audits are part of the investigation and litigation files of the Attorney General’s Office and are kept confidential to preserve the integrity of the investigation until it’s complete or criminal charges are filed.
In the audit of Broken Arrow Public Schools, two objectives have been temporarily redacted. Once the AG’s office has completed its independent criminal investigation into these specific matters and a conclusion has been reached, those portions of the investigatory audit will be made public.
“In the interest of transparency and for the sake of those who were falsely accused, we felt it important to release the vast majority of the audit prior to our completed investigation,” Pruitt said. “My office will continue to review allegations of wrongdoing in the remainder of the audit and seek prosecution of individuals who are criminally responsible.”
The audit was estimated to cost the district about $40,000. Broken Arrow Public Schools was billed and has paid $39,868.17 as of Jan. 10 when Auditor Jones took office. A decision was made by the State Auditor’s Office to stop all additional billing as of that date and complete the report with no additional costs to the school district.