Side view of young students writing notes in the classroom

State Auditor Gives Hazelwood School District Second Lowest Grade

May 03, 2018 - 10:07 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Trips, tickets, missing money and inaccurate attendance figures -- State Auditor Nicole Galloway's investigation found plenty of problems in the Hazelwood School District.

One big issue is with the way cash is handled.

“We found that about $1.3 million in cash goes through the school district, which probably would surprise a lot of families and students, and if there’s not proper separation of duties and control around that cash, it can be stolen or lost,” she says.

And that actually happened. More than $8,000 went missing in 2015 and in 2016 former high school principal Audrey Lee admitted to stealing. But the district decided not to call police or press charges, which means Lee gets to keep her retirement benefits.

Hazelwood might also have to give almost $100,000 back to the state after overstating its attendance figures, and a deal to lease $16,000 Chromebook computers for $4.7 million.

“There were no plans for how those computers were going to be used, and they didn’t go out to bid, so they don’t know if they got the best deal for that money. In addition to that, because of poor planning, over 1000 of those computers are not even in use,” she says.

Galloway says the district is at least receptive to her recommendations for change. Galloway gives Hazelwood a "fair", which is her second-lowest grade, although she says the district does seem willing to implement her recommendations.

“When the board is paying for things like meals, gifts, flowers, travel… every single one of those dollars that spent on something for the board, there’s a tradeoff of not spending it elsewhere in the district,” she says.