Article about district hiring "raises alarm bells"

ASSOCIATED PRESS Eugene DePasquale runs the state Auditor General's Office, which will examine the school district this spring.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Eugene DePasquale runs the state Auditor General's Office, which will examine the school district this spring.
Posted: November 21, 2013

EUGENE DEPASQUALE, the state's auditor general, said Monday's Daily News story about the school district's practice of hiring personnel without approval of the School Reform Commission "raised concerns."

"We did see the article in the paper and seeing that issue raised alarm bells," DePasquale told the People Paper yesterday.

Over the past year, the school district has frequently violated state law by failing to notify the public after hiring staff without a public vote.

According to the state's Sunshine Act and district's employment policies, a school district's hires and terminations, listed in personnel resolutions, must be voted on in public by a school board - or, now, the SRC - before the new hires are officially employed.

The Daily News reviewed a year's worth of district personnel resolutions through September and found that no top-ranked officials or their starting salaries were made public or voted on by the SRC. In addition, 56 employees hired between April 18 and June 30 were also not listed.

The Sunshine Act and Pennsylvania's public school code "is not something we normally look at but something we will address in the audit."

In a statement released yesterday, DePasquale said, "The public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent and if those tax dollars are being appropriately used to provide educational opportunities to the children of the district."

The Auditor General's Office, the state fiscal watchdog, will audit the school district this spring. Since Philadelphia is so big, the state's largest district, the audit will take until spring 2015, said the office's spokesman, Barry Ciccocioppo.

The audit will look at "how fiscally responsible the school district's end result is," he said.

Spokesman Fernando Gallard said, "We look forward to collaborating with the auditor general."


On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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