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Tue December 11, 2012
DISD Trustee Worries Law May Have Been Broken
Dallas School Trustee Bernadette Nutall says she’s worried the DISD may have broken its own audit rules or even the law when Superintendent Mike Miles hired new employees and the district paid some of their expenses. Miles says nothing untoward happened.
The rough draft of a DISD audit raises concerns about summertime invoices for moving costs of some newly hired cabinet members. And it indicates possible policy violations, because Mike Miles made job offers before he was officially superintendent, and before those jobs were even posted.
Nutall first requested the audit in October. She questioned a handwritten invoice from one of the district’s new hires, because she said 'it didn’t look right.'
“You’re supposed to have an invoice, and you’re supposed to have scope of work. And you can’t submit a piece of white paper that is hand-written, your name, your social (security number), days worked, per diem, and the total, and you get paid for it.”
Nutall doesn’t want a repeat of financial mistakes that put the district in a $64 million hole four years ago. But Mike Miles does not share Nutall’s concerns. On Tuesday he said the legal department found no policy violations or any illegal or unethical actions.
"I take responsibility for any procedural things that may be in the report, because we were moving fast. That’s my job. I was moving quickly. I asked my staff to move quickly. I hired cabinet early in the summer, or asked Alan King to hire cabinet early in the summer before I took over. If people think that’s a procedural mistake, that’s not a violation of law, but yes."
What’s more, Miles says the preliminary report is just that. He says the official audit is expected in a few days.
"They’re working expeditiously, and they will prepare a comprehensive and thorough response to the audit report. Why don’t we wait to see if there’s anything else to come of it?”
Nutall remains skeptical, especially of Miles’ offer to correct mistakes if they’re found.
"The only reason you’re going to correct the wrong is because the wrong has been brought to light."
Fellow trustee Carla Ranger shares Nutall’s concerns. She blogged " that the nature and extent of the violations of established DISD policies and procedures listed in the audit report are very serious.”
Other board members, though, including those on the audit committee, say a preliminary report is not official, and that they’re waiting for the final audit.