The Lexington-Richland Five School District, located in Chapin, has appointed a new auditor after severing ties with their previous auditing firm. The decision comes after allegations were made regarding issues with the district’s procurement processes. The board of trustees voted to hire Greenwood-based Manley Garvin LLC as the district’s new auditor, amidst concerns over meeting state-mandated financial audit deadlines.
Seeking a New Auditor Amidst Deadlines
The district administration had already initiated the search for a new auditor before the board’s decision to terminate the contract with the previous firm, Jaramillo Accounting Group (JAG). Superintendent Akil Ross cited concerns about meeting the December 1st deadline for financial audits, as failing to comply could lead to a state fiscal watch designation. The search process, however, raised criticism for its informal nature and lack of transparency.
Contentions over the Search Process
Board member Catherine Huddle expressed mistrust in the selection process, questioning why the solicitation was not posted online. Chief Financial Officer Maddison Paul defended the decision, stating that due to an existing auditor at the time, a formal solicitation was not considered necessary. The less formal process, according to the district’s procurement code, involved contacting audit firms directly. Manley Garvin was chosen as the best-qualified firm out of the four that submitted proposals.
A Divided Board and Controversial Audit
Elizabeth Barnhardt and Catherine Huddle were the only board members who voted against hiring Manley Garvin and terminating the contract with JAG. The previous audit conducted by JAG had raised concerns about mishandled funds and potential ethics violations. However, the lack of detailed information in the audit and a subsequent lawsuit by former Superintendent Stephen Hefner added to the division within the board. The lawsuit alleged a conspiracy to defame Hefner through the audit’s second report.
The decision to hire Manley Garvin as the new auditor marks a significant development for the Lexington-Richland Five School District. The controversy surrounding the procurement processes and the involvement of JAG have created tensions among board members and raised questions about transparency and accountability. The district will now move forward with the state-mandated financial audit, aiming to address the concerns raised and restore confidence in their financial practices.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the background and profile of Lexington-Richland Five School District?Lexington-Richland Five School District is a public school district serving a specific geographic area. Can you provide information about the district’s location, student population, academic programs, notable achievements, and any recent controversies or developments?
2. What are the qualifications and experience of Manley Garvin LLC as an auditing firm?Can you provide details about Manley Garvin LLC, such as their expertise in financial auditing, previous experience working with other organizations, and any relevant certifications or accreditations?
3. What were the specific findings of Jaramillo Accounting Group (JAG) regarding the district’s procurement processes?Can you provide information about the alleged instances of mishandled money and potential ethics violations identified by JAG in their review of the district’s procurement processes? What were the details and implications of their findings?
4. Who are the board members of the Lexington-Richland Five School District and what are their backgrounds?Can you provide information about the individual board members, including their names, positions, backgrounds, and any previous involvement in decision-making processes within the district?
5. What were the allegations and outcomes of the lawsuit involving JAG, the district, and the board members?Can you provide information about the lawsuit filed by former Superintendent Stephen Hefner, including the specific allegations against JAG, the district, and the board members? What were the outcomes or ongoing developments related to the lawsuit?