The Recovery School District, which oversees troubled public schools in Louisiana, has accumulated $7 million in missing property in the past four years, including $800,000 in 2015, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said Wednesday.
“Failure to comply with state equipment management regulations increases the risk that assets may be misreported, lost or stolen,” Purpera said in a prepared statement that accompanied the review.
The RSD oversees 57 public schools in New Orleans and more in Baton Rouge that were taken over by the state for poor performance.
RSD officials said last year that most of the property that could not be located was computers and laptops.
This time, IT equipment bought before 2010 accounted for 84 percent of the missing items, the district said in a written response to Purpera.
Patrick Dobard, superintendent of the RSD, said in a statement that in the past year, RSD officials located more than $2.1 million in property that was previously unaccounted for and removed more than $5 million worth of outdated assets to reduce the potential for future problems.
“Since this audit, we have implemented accountability policies that define a ladder of consequences for schools that improperly manage state assets,” Dobard said.
Purpera said the problem stems from inaccurate and incomplete information kept by the district, a lack of accountability and training for custodians, the failure of RSD officials to follow property procedures and a lack of enforcement by RSD management.
In a phone interview, Dobard said the property in question is old, and only 10 percent of the issues cited by the auditor are from this year.
RSD officials also told Purpera they have launched a “massive campaign” to remove surplus or aged property from their inventory so that it is not classified as missing.
In another area, the report said the district failed to properly note that 96 employees left the system, which potentially cost the state $5,388 in overpayments to 16 of the ex-workers.
The study said problems with employee terminations have plagued the district for nine consecutive years.
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