Comptroller reprimands North Merrick schools' financial practices

The North Merrick school district has been reprimanded by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for weakening its treasurer's office and, thus, the district's finances.

"The District Clerk . . . signed all district checks in place of the treasurer [violating education law and district policy]. Additionally, the Assistant Superintendent for Business and a Senior Account Clerk routinely performed wire and electronic transfers, without the Treasurer's approval, further weakening internal controls over disbursements," according to DiNapoli's audit of the district, released Friday.

The audit, which covered July 1, 2011, to May 31, 2013, also noted that the treasurer did not attend any of 22 regular school board meetings, as the district requires. The treasurer wrote and sent a required monthly financial report and bank reconciliations, according to the audit, but was not present for questioning.


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Superintendent David Feller issued the district's official response to the audit on March 5.

It said, in part: "The school district is very pleased to note that the audit contains no findings of fraud, misappropriation of funds, or financial wrongdoings. As such, the District is in agreement with the recommendations" to correct the issues cited.

"This [treasurer] is the one area where we had a problem, and we have already taken steps to remediate the situation," Feller said Friday.

The district treasurer is appointed annually by the board and is the official custodian of all funds, authorized to sign all checks for the district.

The audit noted that the district clerk was authorized by the school board to sign when the treasurer was absent but regularly signed.

The school district runs three grammar schools for kindergarten through sixth grade, with about 1,250 students and 272 full-time employees. It spent $26.2 million in the last fiscal year and has $28.9 million appropriated for this fiscal year.

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