The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 1, 2013

Auditor: District violated state law

— State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced Monday that Altoona Area School District violated state law when recently retired Superintendent Dennis Murray granted employee promotions, transfers and pay raises without the school board voting on the changes at a public meeting and without documenting the approvals in the board meeting minutes.

“The superintendent of the Altoona Area School District has been in that position for many years and he should have known that documenting the board’s approval of salary increases in a public session is a basic requirement of the school code and necessary for providing transparency to the taxpayers,” DePasquale said.  

In addition to performing a standard school district review, auditors looked at information related to salary increases for five employees to determine whether the changes complied with the Public School Code.

“While we were able to find some evidence that the board and the superintendent may have discussed some of the salary increases in executive sessions or other meetings, the meetings were not documented so we could not verify the information,” DePasquale said.

It was recommended that the district ensure that all personnel actions, including hiring, promotions, transfers, pay raises and salary setting are voted on and approved in a public board meeting; make sure that all personnel transactions are appropriately recorded in the official school board meeting minutes; and develop policies and procedures that require district payroll staff to verify that salary and personnel changes have been voted on and approved by the board in a public meeting prior to implementing any changes.

In other aspects of the review, auditors noted that the district generally complied with the applicable state laws, contracts, grant requirements and administrative procedures they reviewed.  

A full copy of the audit is available at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/Reports/School.html.

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