September 2, 2014
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury

2000-2001 Final Report:

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESPONSES
TO 1999 GRAND JURY REPORT
Ad Hoc


Ravenswood City School District's
Business Practices (RCSD)

1999 Recommendation
Response by Agency
2000-2001 Activity
1. The County Superintendent Of Schools (CSOS) appoint an administrator to establish systems, procedures and controls that comply with State Education Code and train district staff to operate them on a daily basis. The district instigated meetings involving district staff and selected staff of the County Office of Education (COE) to review existing procedures and develop recommendations for revisions. The district board felt it was not feasible for, nor the responsibility of, the CSOS to oversee daily operations of the RCSD. The district would, however, solicit and receive assistance from the COE. The RCSD would not implement the section of the recommendation which refers to the appointment of a COE administrator to oversee the operation of the district. The CSOS appointed a staff member to review the paperwork associated with certain programs for completeness before checks were drawn to pay the outstanding debts on credit cards and other obligations.

2. The Ravenswood City School District Board of Trustees direct the superintendent to revise, implement and enforce district credit card policies to:

a. Reduce the number of credit cards issued to district staff and officials.

b. Prohibit cash advances on district credit cards.

c. Abolish the use of credit cards by anyone other than the designated card holder.

d. Prohibit cardholders from placing personal charges on district credit cards.

e. Prohibit the use of credit cards to incur expenses for other entities, e.g., The Needy Children's Fund.

f. Require documentation to support each credit card charge.

The board disagrees with concept of reducing the number of credit cards; however, district policies were drafted by the administration and adopted by the board to:

a. Distribute five credit cards to the board,four cards to district administrators, two to district program managers and nine to school principals.

b. Prohibit cash advances on credit cards.

c. Abolish the use of credit cards by any person other than the authorized holder.

d. Prohibit the use of district cards for personal use.

e. Prohibit use of district credit cards to incur expenses for other entities; however, they can be used for purchases to be paid by the Needy Children's Fund, a district program.

f. Require documentation for all charges.
The CSOS assigned an account clerk to review all district credit card encumbrances to assure that the district policies were adhered to by district staff. The findings of the account clerk were that all recommendations, with the exception as noted in part "a" of the agency response to the left, were instituted by the board and followed by the district staff.
3. The RCSD Board of Trustees direct the district superintendent to implement credit card procedures to:

a. Reconcile the credit card statements for each card on a monthly basis.

b. Ensure the district will not incur finance charges.

c. Keep the district from making duplicate or improper payments.

d. Make properly supported and posted entries for all credit card charges.

e. Have all credit card charges approved by the appropriate district manager.
The district board agrees with the recommendations and included them in the policy changes referred to in responses to recommendation #2. COE staff monitored all the credit card accounts of the district and reported quarterly to the grand jury committee monitoring the implementation of these recommendations. The district changed its credit card company to "CalCards," a credit card program available through the State of California General Services and U.S. Bank, to facilitate the reduction or elimination of finance charges.
4. The RCSD Board of Trustees direct the superintendent to implement a comprehensive cash advance policy ensuring that all travel expenses:

a. Are consistent with district policies.

b. Cover only actual travel dates.

c. Do not include expenses prepaid through registration fees.

d. Are fully documented.

e. Are not duplicated on district credit cards.

f. Are accounted for in a timely fashion.
The board agrees with the recommendation.The board adopted a comprehensive cash advance policy which spoke to the recommendations. The COE staff member assigned the task of monitoring the RCSD transactions found that the district adhered to the new cash advance policies.
5. The RCSD Board of Trustees establish a policy concerning the number of district personnel allowed to attend conferences and conventions and direct the superintendent to "keep such personnel travel to a minimum." The RCSD Board agrees with the adoption of a staff travel policy. The board disagrees with the recommendation to "keep such travel to a minimum." Because "school districts do not have programs which reimburse the cost of tuition to employees,...conferences and conventions frequently provide the sole opportunity for district employees in lower economic brackets to obtain training required to implement new programs, receive exposure to new teaching techniques or innovative learning experiences." The polices adopted by the RCSD Board to cover staff travel reflected the perception that travel to conferences and conventions is a necessary part of staff development. The new policies encourage attendance at conferences by professional staff members of the district. The policies also include "post-function" review, the dissemination of information and benefits received, and accountability for reconciling expenses after travel is completed. International travel by one board member did seem excessive, even though it was supported by an outside agency.
6. The RCSD Board of Trustees review each of the unusual expenditures identified in the Limited Scope Management Audit to determine if the expenditures are consistent with board policy. The board should provide tighter controls on expenditures by either reconsidering their policies as they relate to these expenditures or by prohibiting expenditures in these areas. The district agrees with the recommendation. The board scheduled an item-by-item review. The superintendent is working with the board to adopt specific policies to address the types of expenditures described as "unusual."
7. That the RCSD Board of Trustees prohibit expenditures made in any manner for the benefit of any other organization or individual. Subsequent reimbursements cannot be used to circumvent district policies which prevent the commingling of funds. The board disagrees with the recommendation. What the grand jury calls commingling, the board defines as "fluid management." The district considers these short term loans among district-held funds legal under provisions of the Education Code. In particular, the board disagrees with this recommendation as it may pertain to the Needy Children's Fund (NCF) and the Employee Emergency Loan Fund (EELF) The board agrees with the recommendation as it relates to separate entities such as "Cities in Schools" (CIS). The county counsel ruled on the board's response as it relates to the NCF and is of the opinion that the board may continue to spend funds here so long as there is a recorded board action on each related transaction. The circumstances surrounding the EELF (now called the Employee Fund) are the subject of a criminal indictment and are not being pursued by the grand jury. The board developed a policy statement which better controls relationships among funds and the management of CIS funds.
8. The RCSD Board of Trustees discontinue the practice of commingling district funds with those of EEF, NCF, and any individual's personal accounts. The district agrees with the recommendation concerning actual commingling of funds in the General Fund with other funds of the district. However, with respect to funds of the district, the Education Code permits inter-fund loans. The grand jury was assured by a representative of the COE that short-term loans among district funds are permitted by the Education Code.
9. The RCSD Board of Trustees establish proper accounting for grants and donations to trust and agency funds to ensure that expenditures from these grants and donations made are for their specifically designated purposes. The district agrees with the recommendation. The district is soliciting the assistance of independent auditors and the COE for suggestions to improve its procedures to guarantee that all fund expenditures are properly documented and expended for the appropriate purposes.
10. The RCSD deposit all monies, including the NCF and the EELF, into trust and agency funds at the county treasury to allow for better control, proper management, and audit of these funds. The board disagrees with the recommendation. By their very nature the money from these funds must be readily available to assist students, their families, and district employees when needs arise. It is the feeling of the district that funds deposited in the county treasury and administered by the COE cannot be accessed in a timely matter. The district cited a letter by the general counsel for the California Education Legal Authority, that it is appropriate to deposit funds in a commercial bank with RCSD serving as the trustee. The grand jury reviewed the RCSD annual audit as well as the Limited Scope Management Audit requested by the 1998 Grand Jury and found that the NCF and the EELF accounts were included in both documents.
11. The RCSD Board of Trustees establish clear guidelines for separate and specific accounting procedures for fund transactions in both EELF and NCF. Grant money and donations to these funds should be used only for the specific purpose for which the fund was intended. The district agrees with the recommendation. The district is developing guidelines and procedures for accounting for fund transactions in EELF and NCF.
12. The RCSD Board of Trustees develop and strictly enforce policies and procedures to administer the EELF to ensure fair and equal treatment of all district employees and to ensure the loans are approved only for the stated purpose of the fund. The district agrees with the recommendation. To a great extent the recommendation has been implemented. Because the substance of this recommendation is the subject of a criminal indictment and trial, the grand jury has not pursued this topic.
13. The RCSD Board of Trustees institute procedures for purchases against standing accounts with outside vendors that are supported by proper documentation. The district agrees with the recommendation. The recommendation has been implemented. No action was taken by the 2000-2001 Grand Jury.
14. The RCSD Board of Trustees direct the superintendent to establish formal capital equipment/fixed asset records and institute procedures to record changes in location, sale, and disposal of the district's capital equipment/fixed assets. The district agrees with the recommendation. The recommendation has been implemented. No action was taken by the 2000-2001 Grand Jury.
15. The RCSD Board of Trustees establish a policy to ensure that corrections to all discrepancies found in an annual audit be completed prior to the following year's audit. The district agrees with the recommendation. The recommendation has been implemented. The grand jury reviewed the documents held by the COE and found all audits were in compliance with the recommendation.
16. The San Mateo County 2000-2001 Grand Jury verify that all recommended policies and procedures adopted or promised to be adopted by RCSD are implemented and enforced. The district has no objection to this recommendation. The grand jury submits this review of 2000-2001 activity as its report.

 

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