Philadelphia controller says SEPTA student passes could cost School District millions

Posted: September 07, 2012

City Controller Alan Butkovitz said a review of Philadelphia School District operations found city schools could be losing millions on the SEPTA TransPasses that students use.

In a report released Thursday, the controller's office said that because of lapses in oversight, the district was at risk for theft and abuse that could total millions.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district challenged the potential financial impact cited in Butkovitz's report. He said that SEPTA billed the district only for rides taken and that only students could use the TransPasses.

The $33 million TransPass program provides free transportation for eligible students each week to and from school. District employees are supposed to account for every pass they distribute and provide a summary that includes the number of TransPasses received, distributed, and returned each month.

As part of an evaluation of the district's internal controls for fiscal year 2011, the controller's office examined records for one week at four high schools. The investigators found 12 percent of the 4,944 TransPasses could not be accounted for. The value of the unaccounted TransPasses at those schools came to $9,545 for that week.

If that weekly amount were indicative of normal practices across the city throughout the academic year, the loss to the district could total millions, Butkovitz said.

In its response to the controller's findings, the district said principals would be reminded of the importance of documenting TransPasses at their schools.


Contact Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or martha.woodall@phillynews.com.

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