A Beaufort County School District committee advanced a plan Thursday to hire an investigator to look into allegations of improper use of school credit cards, including criticism of about $500 in Victoria’s Secret purchases.
After an hours long discussion, the Beaufort County School District Finance and Operations committee voted to ask the full board to review the hiring of a forensic auditor.
The committee approved the motion in a 3-2 vote with Mary Cordray and Bill Payne, both committee and board members, voting against it.
Those who voted for the motion were David Striebinger, Christina Gwozdz and JoAnn Orischak. They argued that audits used by the school district only look at the surface.
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“As I remind everyone — Enron had auditors, too,” Striebinger said.
During the 2017 fiscal year, about $30 million was charged to 52 credit cards distributed to each school and office department in the district. The 2015 Victoria’s Secret purchases have been declared fraudulent and reimbursed.
A group of citizens also have demanded that the district investigate credit card spending in more detail.
“We started raising questions back in April and here we are in August,” Richard Bisi, a member of Citizens Advocating Responsible Education, told the committee. “What has been remarkable is the deafening silence from a vast majority of school board members on the forensic audit. It is about the children. I hope this board does the right thing.”
Credit card transactions totaling more than $100 are required to be posted on the district’s website per state law. Critics asked the district to make all credit card purchases public along with description of each transaction, including which department or office used the card.
Tonya Crosby, chief finance and operations officer, said Thursday the district has already taken steps to make information more available to the public.
Those efforts include a June report that will be posted on the website Friday. It will identify fraudulent transactions and refunds and provide a description of the location of purchase and funding source, Crosby said.
“This is a work in progress but it will provide a lot more detail than you had in the past,” Crosby said.