A school superintendent submerged a district truck in a pond last summer while using it for personal business, according to an audit report released Thursday.
In a separate matter, auditors also told lawmakers that two former Pine Bluff School District employees would be prosecuted on accusations of falsifying time sheets, bilking the district of more than $69,700.
In the matter of the truck, auditors told the Legislative Joint Auditing Educational Institutions Subcommittee that the Quitman Public Schools superintendent accidentally sank a school-owned truck in a pond in June 2018.
The truck was sold for $200 as scrap after a district school bus was used to tow the truck out of the pond, according to the audit report. The superintendent also donated $250 as compensation for the lost truck, the report said.
Auditors said the unnamed superintendent implicated in the Quitman report remains the superintendent there. The Quitman Public Schools superintendent, according to the district's website, is Dennis Truxler, who is also identified as a coach and bus driver. Truxler didn't return a phone message left at his office Thursday afternoon.
Committee members reacted to the report with laughter and befuddlement. Auditors said it was difficult to accurately price the 1999 Ford F-250, but that school officials estimated the cost below $1,000.
"Is the superintendent still employed there?" Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris, asked. "They do have a school board, correct?"
After auditors replied affirmatively to both questions, Eubanks deadpanned, "OK."
Arkansas Legislative Audit staff members report their findings regularly to lawmakers, who review the reports. Auditors refer any potential criminal actions to prosecuting attorneys to consider charges.
That was the case in Pine Bluff where two school district employees are accused of falsifying and forging time sheets. The employees, according to the 2018 audit findings, provided security and painting services to the district. Auditors found that the employees claimed to have worked more than 20 hours on 145 days, including 32 days when they charged for more than 24 working hours.
The now-former employees also charged the district for 100 hours of painting at campuses on days they were providing security on out-of-town trips, the report said.
The employees forged the signature of their supervisor on the timecards before turning them into the district's financial office, the report said.
In total, one employee was paid $35,696 in unearned wages; the other received $34,085 in unearned pay. Auditors said that both employees admitted that they had not worked the reported hours.
Auditors also told lawmakers that the two employees, who were not named, were being prosecuted. The Jefferson County prosecuting attorney's office didn't return a message Thursday afternoon seeking the employees' names and details about the charges against them.
Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Jeremy Owoh told the legislative subcommittee that the district had put in proper controls to ensure that timecard fraud could no longer take place. Owoh said he personally reviews all reported time sheets before giving final approval.
Owoh wasn't superintendent at the time of the alleged infractions. He was appointed as the district's leader in September by state Education Commissioner Johnny Key after the state Board of Education voted to take over the district and dismiss the local school board because of the district's fiscal distress.
Metro on 05/10/2019
Print Headline: State audits detail superintendent who sank school-owned truck in pond, timecard issues