Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

School receiver calls financial audit “clear indictment” of former administration practices

Harrisburg school district receiver Janet Samuels introduced John George, executive director of the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, earlier this week.

The state’s recently released financial audit of the Harrisburg school district is a “clear indictment” of the practices of the former school administration, according to the district’s receiver.

Receiver Janet Samuels released a statement on Thursday declining comment on specific audit findings, but that acknowledged the report’s findings.

“In my capacity as the court appointed Receiver, I acknowledge receipt of the audit which is a clear indictment of the accounting and Human Resources practices of the former school district administration,” she said.

In March, the state Department of Education hired Johnstown-based Wessel & Co. to perform the audit following a series of costly errors by the district, including continuing to pay health benefits to former employees.

The report, released earlier this week, looked at a year-three period, July 2015 to June 2018, and discovered more than $3.8 million in unsupported and questionable costs, more than 100 ex-employees who continued to receive healthcare benefits and huge deficits in cafeteria operations that had to be covered by the general fund. Other shortcomings included personnel records rife with errors, a lack of financial oversight and controls and a profoundly unqualified business manager.

“I am not going to comment on any of the specifics of the audit findings other than the fact that the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit plans to fully analyze all of the issues raised in the audit and establish best practices for the school district. These audit findings further justify the necessity of my June 27, 2019 action partnering with the MCIU to operate the district and my personnel actions taken on that date,” Samuels concluded.

At the urging of the state Department of Education, a Dauphin County judge appointed Samuels as the district’s receiver on June. 17.

Under her direction, the district dismissed former Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney and much of the top school district leadership. It then contracted with MCIU, one of 29 intermediate units throughout Pennsylvania that offer educational services to local school districts, to head up the district’s leadership team under the three-year receivership.

Read the full audit report: Harrisburg City SD – AUP and Consulting Report 2016-2018

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