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School district changes purchasing card policy after audit finds misuses

The Lexington-Richland 5 school district published Phase One of a procurement audit in late June, and is looking to make improvements to fix past mistakes.

IRMO, S.C. — The Lexington-Richland 5 Procurement Audit committee decided to update district-wide spending policies in their Monday afternoon meeting. 

After the district published Phase One of their procurement audit in late June, the school board has continued working to ensure mishandling of funds doesn't happen again.

"It's not easy to look at everything and this takes time," explained School Board Chair, Jan Hammond. "All the board members that were unelected or aren't here now, they never wanted committees... Well why are we elected? My job is to see that these policies are not being carried out properly, and that we have the best policy to keep anybody from misusing one dollar."

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Since publishing the first part of the audit, the school district has  decided to pay their lawyers to review their spending history before 2016 as well. So far the investigation has found that purchasing cards had been turned down on several occasions for trying to purchase items that would not be approved by district administration. However, it has not been publicly disclosed who was trying to use the cards.

"We found in the audit, there were several purchase cards where several items had been turned down," Hammond recalled. "One was a lady's store and I think another was a church, but it was not misuse, it was caught."

The district also had construction work that was paid for but never completed. 

"I think we had this on the last project because we started out with a consultant who was never voted on by the board. That consultant when I went back and looked at the contract they signed... it did not include the tasks of construction project representative even though that was his job that he was asked to do," board member Ken Loveless stated.

RELATED: Lexington Richland 5 attorney calls district 'dysfunctional'

The committee decided to update their policies to be more specific with what those with purchasing cards can buy, and who can hold them. Superintendent Akil Ross will have the power to approve card holders, purchases, and will be responsible for making sure all receipts are collected. 

The board says they will continue to work on their policy for overseeing construction work as well to make sure there is someone from the district overseeing construction projects.

The next meeting will be announced by the district on their website.

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