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Long IslandEducation

Audit: Valley Stream 24 district overpaid 2 employees

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is shown

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is shown in this file photo taken in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A state audit of Valley Stream School District 24 found that district officials overpaid two employees for unused sick leave days and an assistant superintendent incorrectly donated his sick time to another employee.

But Superintendent Edward Fale said district officials discovered the errors independently during an internal review before the state’s audit was conducted, and some of the money already has been paid back.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s auditors examined the district’s accounting for leave time and separation payments between July 1, 2014, and Feb. 29, 2016, as part of a statewide audit of school districts. District 24 has three elementary schools with about 1,100 students and 226 employees.

The assistant superintendent, Daniel Onorato, donated 27.5 days of sick time to a seriously ill employee whose sick days had run out. Fale said that at the time, only teachers were authorized to donate their extra sick days to the ill employee.

Onorato, the auditors said, also carried over 6.5 vacation days from one year to the next, when he should have lost them at the end of the year.

In addition, two employees who left the district received higher separation payments than they were entitled to: one employee got $26,290 instead of $13,145, and the other was paid $3,652 as opposed to $1,826. The discrepancy stems from contracts that have different payouts for employees.

One employee already has paid back the extra $1,826 to the district; officials are working to arrange reimbursement of $13,145 from the other one, the state said.

Auditors recommended that the district establish procedures that review employees’ time-off balances, as well as their separation payment calculations.

Fale said the district began the process of recouping the money on its own.

“We made the auditors aware of” the mistakes, the superintendent said. “It’s not like someone stole money or anything like that.”

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