Parlier Unified School District officials may have engaged in fraud and misappropriation of funds, a state audit has found.
In a so-called “extraordinary audit” of fiscal years 2012-13 through 2014-15, which was requested last year by the Fresno County Office of Education, the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team determined that Parlier Unified has poor practices of financial bookkeeping and recordkeeping that increase the probability of fraud or abuse.
The audit was released May 6. On Wednesday, the district said in a news release that the audit is being reviewed, but that the district has already or plans to adopt the report’s recommendations.
The audit’s findings include:
- Two or even three meals per day were paid with district funds.
- The district agreed to open or blanket purchase orders with restaurants, a practice that the audit said “reflects a massive lack of internal control.”
- Meals frequently included high-priced items such as bacon shrimp and lamp lollipop appetizers, filet mignon, rib-eye steaks (with or without lobster) and “The Sheriff,” a 2-pound sirloin.
- The superintendent paid for meals of diners at his table as well as other parties who happened to be in the restaurant, including current and former employees and their families.
- Some school board members were paid for meetings they did not attend, in violation of the state Education Code.
The audit comes less than a year after a Fresno County grand jury report hammered district officials over questionable financial transactions. The board voted a week later to place Superintendent Gerardo Alvarez on paid administrative leave. He was later replaced by Superintendent Edward M. Lucero.