A petition drive is underway to gather at least 285 signatures of registered voters in the Luther Public Schools (involving Oklahoma, Logan and Lincoln Counties) to signal a state audit to “examine the books.”
State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones confirmed to The Luther Register that citizens of the school district had approached his office and their concerns were valid to warrant the petition request for special audit. He said if the required signatures of registered voters are collected by Nov 24, 2015, his office will proceed as expeditiously as possible to investigate the concerns.
The investigation will focus on four items, at a minimum, on the petition request for the period including, but not limited to, July 1, 2013, through October 31, 2015:
- Review possible mishandling of 2012 and 2014 bond project funds including but not limited to determining if any bond proceeds were expended on non-bond-related projects.
- Review of board policies, procedures, and custodial recordkeeping for possible irregularities in school activity accounts.
- Review of personnel contracts and certification to determine that all personnel requiring certification are certified in the area in which they are employed and review the creation of Dean of Students for possible violation of Oklahoma nepotism statutes and district hiring procedures.
- Review expenditure and possible misuse of federal, state, and private grant funds including almost $90,000 in questioned costs identified in FY14 financial statement audit report.
The petition must include signatures of ten percent (285) of the registered voters that are “a resident of the Luther Public School District, an elector in Oklahoma County, Lincoln County, and Logan County, and that he/she resides at the address designated on this petition.”
Jones said the signatures will be verified by election officials, but the names of the petition signers will not be made public.
The estimated cost, according to the SAI, will range from $20,000 – $40,000 which shall be paid by the Luther Public School District, Oklahoma County, Lincoln County, and Logan County, Oklahoma, in accordance with 74 OS 212(L)(7). The estimated cost is based on estimated audit hours and travel expenses, according to the petition request.
Some LPS voters have said they have concerns with signing the petition because of the cost, indicating the school district is already suffering financially without adding to it.
However, one of the petition organizers, Jane Martin said the expenditure is warranted.
“The cost of the audit is needed to see where the funds in this district have gone … He’s easily spent this sum for furniture for office and legal fees. If we don’t want our district to default, we MUST know the financial picture,” she said.
If interested in signing the petition, Martin gave her number: 277-2134 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org