Money missing from DPS athletic department — again

More money is missing from Dayton Public Schools’ athletic department, according the district’s internal auditor, Randall Harper, and a DPS employee is paying it back.

Harper told the school board Tuesday night that a “follow-up review” to his 2016 audit of the athletic department revealed more missing deposits, the same issue that led to the loss of more than $14,000 in 2014 and 2015.

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Harper said no formal audit report was issued in his review, and he did not specify the dollar amount missing this time. This news organization has requested documents related to the review.

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Asked by school board member John McManus whether this incident was an attempted theft or a simple mistake, Harper said the employee failed to follow district procedures on deposits, leading to an eventual theft.

“The individual responsible for the funds at that time, I do not believe it was theft on their part,” Harper said, not identifying the person. “Obviously someone did steal the funds at some point. … If the procedures on timely deposits were followed, that could have mitigated this.”

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Harper said he explained to the person responsible for overseeing the money that if they didn’t repay it themselves, the state auditor or attorney general could file a finding for recovery against them. DPS is recovering the missing funds “in the next couple of months.”

Harper said new procedures put in place in the athletic department last year are largely being followed, but there are clearly still “areas for improvement.”

Several school board members expressed concern. Sheila Taylor, a longtime member of the district’s Athletic Board of Control, said “for years there’s been very little accountability for what happens in the athletic department.” Adil Baguirov said the department is improving after being “in very bad shape for many, many, many years.”

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Hazel Rountree said the situation requires more than just the repayment of money.

“We’ve had the same department audited before, and now again they’re in the same situation that money is missing or unaccounted for,” Rountree said. “And I don’t see any accountability.”

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