AP audit highlights insufficient financial policies at Massachusetts school

An accounts payable audit that revealed irregularities in a Springfield, Massachusetts, school's financial practices led to the firing of four school employees, the resignation of two and the suspension of one.

The AP audit uncovered inadequate checks and balances pertaining to financial operations within Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School's administration, its automotive, carpentry, and graphic arts departments, as well as the school store. The audit spanned an eight-year period that ended in August of last year when current principal Gilbert Traverso took over, and identified double-billing, duplicate payments, unchecked cash advances, and other improper practices.

Springfield schools superintendent Alan Ingram called the failings "a terrible injustice for … students and staff" and said it was "unacceptable for (the mismanagement) to have gone unchecked for so long by the prior administrations."

A number of safeguards have since been introduced, including the documentation of cash management policies and procedures and the introduction of accounting manager and financial analyst positions at the school.

Although no instances of embezzlement were uncovered, insufficient or nonexistent policies increase the likelihood of fund misappropriation. Recovery audit services such as those offered by Technology Insight can identify duplicate payments, and regular AP audits can highlight other deficiencies in financial operations.  

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