SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Using school funds to buy personal electronics, using shop equipment for personal purposes, and double-billing the system are among the allegations outlined in an audit of practices at Putnam Vocational Technical High School.
In the 13 months since the audit began, four Putnam employees were fired, two resigned, and one was suspended and demoted, the School Department revealed Tuesday. Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram would not release the identities or positions of those allegedly involved, citing state confidentiality law.
Ingram said that the former procedures at the school were "absolutely disgraceful," but said that improvements have been made to ensure that this does not happen again.
Among the new safeguards are the closing of an illegal checking account, installing documenting formal policies and procedures, and implementing a new student activities account software program. The aforementioned illegal checking account was for student and vocational activities, accountant Mark Ianello said. The account was the main focus of the investigation, Ianello said.
Additional findings outlined in the audit were that an employee was using school property to operate a personal business, more than $14,000 in vocational program cash receipts were missing, and that about $25,000 in computer equipment had been stolen from the school due to lack of security.
While the Putnam investigation was ongoing, Ingram said that they had audited all of the district's other secondary schools.
The School Department released information on the audit at 6:00; hours after an earlier meeting that City Councilor Tim Rooke says should have brought about the release of the audit.
Rooke, the chairman of the City Council's Audit Committee, says that they had scheduled a joint meeting between the committee, the Mayor, and the School Superintendent sheduled to begin at 4:00 P.M. at City Hall. Only the members of the audit committe had showed up for the meeting, however. The School Department had set up a separate meeting for 6:00, a meeting that would follow a 5:00 P.M. executive session.
Rooke said that he, and other members of the Audit Committee had headed to City Hall expecting that the report would be released at the 4:00 meeting, but City Solicitor Ed Pikula said that the report could not be released until the School Committee saw it first.
Rooke said that the majority of the work on the audit had been done long ago, and that he wanted this report released three months ago.
The audit had been requested by Putnam Principal Gil Traverso shortly after he took the job in the summer of 2010.
You can read the complete report on the City of Springfield's website at springfieldcityhall.com.