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Audit: Dayton schools paid workers who never showed up

Dayton Public Schools made advance payments to two paraprofessionals who never showed up to work in 2017, according to a state audit released Thursday ordering the money to be repaid to the district.

The audit also showed the district has made overall progress over previous years. The state upgraded the district to become a “low risk auditee” after finding no major compliance issues, reducing the level of scrutiny in future state audits.

The Ohio Auditor of State issued findings for recovery — assertions public money was misspent and must be repaid — against Yvonne Shackleford-Crane for $880 and Mary McCarthy for $1,028. As school treasurer, Hiwot Abraha is also listed on the findings as required under Ohio law.

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The audit says the district’s policy was to make advance payments on salaries for certain positions before employees actually began working. These two employees received advance payments in August 2017 but never showed up to work.

“The (school) board should review its payroll procedures to determine if the district should switch from advance payments on payroll to a lag,” the audit says. “This will reduce the risk of an employee being compensated before performing any work.”

The district is working with the two individuals to recoup the money, Abraha said, and stopped the practice this year of making advanced payments.

Dayton schools has had findings for recovery issued against it in four of its last five audits. Last year’s audit found four staff members were paid for periods of time they didn’t work in 2017.

The district has “completely cleaned up” its internal financial controls in recent years, Abraha said, and the $1,908 over-payment is a “tiny” issue in an agency with a more than $300 million budget, including $150 million in wages and benefits.

“You didn’t see in the report anything, with the exception of this $1,908 finding, so they declared us a low-risk auditee,” she said. “This year and going onward, we will be a low risk auditee. That means less money we’re going to pay to the auditors, less manpower we are going to pay to the auditors auditing us.”

RELATED: Audit: Dayton schools paid teachers for time they didn’t work

The audit released Thursday shows some, but not all, of the findings for recovery from last year’s audit were repaid.

The district started using time clocks this year for many employees, adding another control to prevent over-payment of wages.

“Our controls are much, much better,” Abraha said.

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