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State won't pursue charges

"This was blatant abuse of taxpayer dollars and manipu-lation of weak internal controls by two individuals at the top who were entrusted to safeguard these funds," said Comptroller Alan Hevesi. "Their actions are deplorable and resulted in a considerable financial loss for the school district."

The investigation also found the superintendents failed to charge vacation time for time out of office, received unauthorized leave benefits, had taken inappro-priate stipends, received improper contract provisions (annuity and disability insurance benefits), reimbursed themselves for undocumented claims and to fail to notify the board of education about taking pay for the unused vacation time.

"This has been a long and arduous process for the entire school, and particularly the district office," said board president David Gibson. "Al-though there were internal controls that were weak, actions have been implemented to correct those problems that were identified by the Office of the State Comptroller and now confirmed by the district attorney and U.S. Education Department."

Superintendent Linda Langevin said the school board had created and filled two positions to help with internal controls. A claims auditor now reviews all purchases for accuracy and will report any exception to the board of education. An internal auditor will perform random analyses on all high-risk areas checking, including employee payrolls in the areas of retirement vacation and benefits paid.

In other changes, Langevin noted, no one person will control the process and procedures of the district office.

"There's always at least two sets of eyes on every procedure now," said Langevin.

For instance, Langevin said, if she were to seek money for unused vacation time she would have to present the request to the board of education, and the board would need to approve the request through the passing of a resolution.

"I answer directly to the board of education for all money," said Langevin. "They know any money that I'm spending."

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