No fraud, but several problems found in report on Clarendon Co. School District

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Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 7:44 PM EDT
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CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The office of South Carolina’s Inspector General didn’t find any fraud in the Clarendon County School District’s finances, but it did find several other problems.

The office completed the report earlier this month after Rep. Fawn Pedalino (R-Clarendon Co.) requested the investigation from Gov. Henry McMaster in April 2023.

Pedalino had asked the governor to investigate “potential financial irregularities”, providing what the governor described as “extensive documentation” about the district.

The 20-page report did not find any misapplication of funds, but did list off several other problems, including:

  • The district overpaid board members and paid them for unattended meetings
  • The district did not have a policy on salary advances, risking unequal treatment of employees
  • The district violated a CERRA grant agreement by allowing Superintendent Dr. Shawn Johnson to stay in a CERRA-funded townhouse (Johnson has since paid back the rent)
  • The district lacked adequate internal controls over its athletic program
  • Allowing $33,500 to be redirected from its original purpose
  • Underpaid and overpaid athletics staff
  • Late roster submissions to the South Carolina High School League
  • Only 1 out of 84 coaches had all appropriate certifications documented (risking fines if not addressed)
  • The district failed to audit the certifications
  • The district failed to drop 36 truant students from its membership rolls, resulting in $128,493 paid to the district from the state (that money will be reconciled at the state’s next financial disbursement)
  • The district failed to close four unattended bank accounts at the time of each consolidation, creating high risk for $213,060.28

Here’s the full report:

“Those were the things I was concerned about,” Pedalino said.

District leaders held a news conference on Monday outside district offices, admitting there’s work to do. However, they homed in on the lack of fraud and expressed frustration with Pedalino’s actions.

“I call on her to have a public apology, to everyone that she’s offended, and I’m calling on her to resign,” board chair Arthur Moyd said.

Boyd has issued a call for resignations of her own in a Facebook post.

“I just want to make sure our teachers and staff have honest, ethical and good leadership and I don’t feel we have that,” she said.

The report shows Vice Chair Alex Craven and Board member Ron Wingard were overpaid a combined $2,250 for unattended meetings.

Craven paid the $600 he owed back after the news conference, while Wingard told WIS he would have his pay docked to backfill the $1,650.

The district released a statement to WIS after it pressed it for more information on the repayments, reaffirming that pay will be docked if the money is not repaid.

“Why did it even happen in the first place? Yes I do think that a plan of action should’ve already been implemented and the money should have already been paid back,” Pedalino said.

Johnson said additional oversight has been placed on the athletics department finances. Additionally, he said the district is addressing the issue of truancy on its membership rolls.

“We got to get people trained, we got to get the right personnel and we have to hire some more personnel really, if we’re really going to attack the truancy issue,” he said.

The report included several recommendations for the district on each issue.

Craven decried how the report has created conflict in the community.

“Are the results of this investigation really what was alleged to begin with? I don’t think so and I think that report proves it. It’s concerning to me that we live in a day where politics have become reality TV,” he said.

Pedalino said she plans on contacting the U.S. Department of Education about the findings.

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