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Residents eager to see Jim Thorpe district forensic audit

Published July 13. 2019 05:41AM

Many Jim Thorpe Area School District residents are eager to see a forensic audit report into the alleged misuse of a district credit card by administrators.

You can count among them the president of the district’s board of directors.

At Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Jim Thorpe Area school board, Pearl Downs-Sheckler responded to a question about progress on the audit.

Paul Montemuro, a candidate for school board, asked for an update on the audit, because he said several people have asked him about it.

In November, the accounting firm Brown Schultz Sheridan and Fritz received a $15,000 contract to conduct a forensic audit in connection with potential misuse of credit cards by the district’s current business manager, Lauren Kovac, and former superintendent, Brian Gasper.

Downs-Sheckler said the last time she spoke with a representative from the firm, they said that the school board would receive the results of the audit in the first week of July.

She said she followed up after that didn’t happen, and she hasn’t heard back.

Kovac said she contacted the firm and didn’t get a response either.

Downs-Sheckler said she was told that the person conducting the audit had completed their work, however, they were waiting for a supervisor’s approval in order to release it to the school board.

“I’m still waiting for results. That’s all I can tell you. When I have them, you guys will know,” Downs-Sheckler said.

The engagement letter with the firm states that the audit report will be released to the school board and its attorney only.

If board members want to release the report to anyone else, they must get written permission from the firm. The firm also controls the release of any research they conducted while compiling the report.

The engagement letter states that if the board would release the report without permission, and the firm was sued as a result, the district would be responsible for paying the firm’s legal bills.

Brown Schultz Sheridan and Fritz was specifically hired to review credit card statements, school district payments and other documents used by Gasper, who left the district last month after the board decided to not renew his contract, and Kovac.

The engagement letter didn’t specify a time frame for the records that they reviewed.

“The purpose is to determine if there were any improprieties with respect to the expenditures on the credit cards,” according to an engagement letter approved by the school board in October.

Downs-Sheckler said following the meeting that the board will review the report in a closed session when they receive it.

Downs-Shecker has said that she personally feels the audit should be released to the public.

She said Wednesday that it is the auditor’s decision whether the report will be released to the public, and she couldn’t speculate about what they will decide.

Public paid for the report, the public should get to read it.

Sounds like someone didn't understand the idea of public service, or the duties of the board to provide pertinent information to the stakeholders.


Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
I’m sure the board welcomes the clause stipulating that the firm must provide permission, for the audit to be released. This way, they won’t have to acknowledge that any improprieties happened on their watch because the public will, most likely, never see the actual audit. Therefore, the truth is what they say it is.

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