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Audit: $51 mil in improper spending under Dallemand | News

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Audit: $51 mil in improper spending under Dallemand
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An audit concludes that former Bibb County Schools superintendent Romain Dallemand approved more than $51 million in contracts in "apparent reckless disregard" of procurement policies.

The external audit said Dallemand "authorized, directed and coerced staff" to execute the transactions without school board approval or compliance with policy between July 20, 2012 and December 18, 2012.

Among nine transactions cited in the audit, it said the former superintendent committed the school district to more than $19 million in spending on the Promise Neighborhood project, even though the board had initially approved a commitment of only $10 million. The audit said the school board fully approved this and other transactions after the fact.

The audit was performed by the accounting firm of Mauldin and Jenkins to be presented to the school board at Thursday's meeting. Sue Sipe, board president, possibly wants a fiduciary investigation.

"It is our responsibility as board members to be fiscally responsible, these audit findings are showing that there were items going on and we did not address these items," she said.

But Steve Smith, interim superintendent, said the audit was the investigation. "I think that a fiduciary investigation is gonna reveal the same thing that we found in the audit here, that is a fiduciary investigation," he said. "It's kind of checking to find out whether or not our books are correct or not. In the process it was discovered that there were some findings, inappropriate activities that took place. I don't know that it was criminal, it was unethical I think."

Dallemand's controversial tenure ended when the school board bought out his contract in February 2013.

The auditors recommend that the Board of Education should be responsible for approving for significant actions before they're executed, and the responsibility "not delegated to any single individual or any members of management."

A school board news release said it has tightened up procedures to prevent future problems.

Since last April, the district reduced the amount that the superintendent could spend on his own without board approval from $500,000 to $100,000.

The district also hired a director of procurement to oversee purchasing.

Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier declined to comment.

Board member Ella Carter believes the board needs to focus on finding a superintendent before they address the fiscal issues.

Member Tom Hudson said it's going to be hard to attract a superintendent with the issues and that he was upset that the media learned of the audits results before some board members did.

Follow @EliseDBrown on Twitter for updates.

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