A forensic audit of Brownsville Independent School District operations during the last three years found “systemic corruption at practically every level.”
The audit also found “fraud abuse waste” in multiple areas and tacit approval in the maintenance and transportation departments of time and attendance and overtime abuse.
BISD released the audit report Tuesday afternoon, saying it would not comment on details of the report, which covers the 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years and the administration of former Superintendent Brett Springston.
The Dallas firm of Defenbaugh and Associates performed the audit at a cost of $250,000.
Carl A. Montoya was appointed interim superintendent on June 8, 2011, the day Springston resigned to become the superintendent of the Bartlett independent School District in Central Texas. Montoya later was named superintendent by a unanimous vote of the BISD Board of Trustees.
“The new administration prefers to let the document speak for itself as a tool for improvement,” BISD said in a news release accompanying the release of the audit.
“However, it is apparent that there has been some long-standing management and operational behaviors that were not supportive or conductive to the financial well-being of the school district,” the release said. “The current administration is taking immediate steps to improve these areas of the district. Formal action plans that correct behaviors and practices cited in the audit report will be implemented and closely monitored to ensure that BISD employees follow all local, state and federal laws, policies and procedures.”
The audit recommends that BISD change its corporate culture.
“This transformation must start at and from the top in order to set the stage for constructive change throughout the entire BISD,” the report says.
It also recommends:
>> That BISD establish its own ethics policy “and thereafter provide ethics training to every employee. Other recommendations include establishment and enforcement of a financial risk-management strategy “to ensure an efficient and cost-effective organization.”
>> That the board of trustees and current BISD executive management issue a combined statement in support of the audit findings, including acknowledgement that fraud abuse waste within any BISD department will not be tolerated.
Additionally, the audit cites numerous alleged “multiple deficiencies and significant shortcomings” in the maintenance department which demand immediate attention and action by BISD management. The document recommends “strong administrative action taken on Administrator Reynaldo G. Arteaga with consideration up to termination.”
It recommends similar action with regard to former Chief Financial Officer Tony Fuller and former Transportation Administrator Hector Chirinos. The document cites alleged multiple wrongdoing by both — tacit approval of time and attendance violations in the case of Chirinos, and alleged financial management transgressions by Fuller.
One of Montoya’s first moves after being named interim superintendent was to place Fuller on administrative leave with pay. Chirinos last fall was removed from his transportation department duties.
“My administration firmly believes in total transparency and we will utilize these audit findings to improve our overall district performance,” Montoya said.
“Having experts from the outside closely assess business practices is beneficial to any large organization. We will take their findings and move forward.”