Superintendent Porter Explains His Handling of Unaccounted for $20,000 in HOB Daycare Program Funds
Mark Porter’s Public Statement, in full:
November 27, 2015
“Recently there have been several news stories regarding the HOB daycare program that was initiated in 2014-2015. I would like to offer the following points of factual clarification and personal responsibility for this unfortunate situation. This is intended as a public communication and can/should be used by media representatives and the School Board in whole or in part as deemed appropriate.
During my time as Superintendent of the Monroe County Schools I have been guided by many principles of effective leadership, two of which relate directly to the daycare situation at Horace O’Bryant School. First, I have always tried to look forward and find solutions to problems, and there have been many, rather than looking back and seeking to affix blame. Though I do believe in the value of lessons learned from the past. Second, I have always tried to put the interests of the School District ahead of individuals in making decisions. Not that I am unaware of the personal impact of the decisions I make, but believe that my primary accountability is to the organization I serve. In addressing the daycare situation at Horace O’Bryant School both of these principles were followed, with questionable results, but not with the intent of a cover-up. I am responsible for the decisions that were made and the results that have followed.
From a factual/timeline perspective, let me offer the following brief summary;
- For the first time ever during the 2014-2015 school year an after school daycare program was offered at Horace O’Bryant School. The program started in August with modest enrollment (average of 62 students) and gradually grew over the course of the school year as one would expect. In December, after reviewing receipts for approximately three months of operation, the building principal noted a recorded financial deficit for the program. This was not in alignment with the actual participation and costs of the program and the situation was immediately reported to the MCSD Finance
- The Finance Department promptly initiated a thorough review of the receipt and deposit records of the daycare program and identified multiple failures to follow proper case management procedures, both with regard to receipting of funds received and the transfer of funds. In conjunction with the failure to follow these proper cash management procedures the Finance Department identified a discrepancy of approximately $20,000 between recorded receipts and recorded deposits, but were unable to identify any individualized fault or direct responsibility.
- Given the significance of these findings an external auditing firm was engaged to “dig deeper” into the situation. In March, 2015 the auditing firm of King & Walker initiated their review of records for the period July 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, and released their final report to the Monroe County Schools on May 10, 2015. This report affirmed the accounting discrepancy of approximately $20,000 and stated in part; “Internal controls were deficient in the collection and deposit of daycare fees with regard to the segregation of functions among employees” and identifying several cash management procedures, receipting, collection and transfer, that were not being followed. The report also noted the 6 month delay in receiving funds from the Early Learning Coalition, which created several accounting challenges. A complete copy of the King & Walker report is included with this communication and further clarification of delayed receipt of ELC funds is on-going.
- The accounting discrepancy in the daycare program at Horace O’Bryant School was disclosed to the State Auditor when they initiated their audit of the Monroe County Schools for the 2014-2015 school year.
I was presented with the results of both the MCSD Finance Department inquiry and the audit conducted by King & Walker. The question to be answered was “what next?” Would it be appropriate and effective to refer this matter to the State Attorney’s Office and/or to law enforcement?
Following the initial MCSD Finance Department efforts all involved personnel had been re-trained in proper cash management procedures and the receipt, collection, transfer and deposit issues were resolved. The problem had been solved and the books were balanced. Based on the unproductive results of two financial inquiries (with regard to placing blame or fault) I was not confident a third inquiry by law enforcement or the State Attorney’s Office would bring forward a different result. It was my decision in May, 2015 to not refer this matter to the State Attorney’s Office at that time. A decision that has legitimately come into question by others and myself today. It should also be noted that within a couple of weeks after receiving the report from King & Walker the building principal did recommend non- renewal of the Daycare Manager.
With regard to lack of timely and complete communication to the School Board this again is an issue for which I am solely accountable. This was an act of omission, not an act of commission to effectuate a cover up. A purported cover up would never have entailed the amount of time and effort that was put in trying to identify and resolve the problem, nor would the issue have been willingly revealed to the State Auditor. I communicate a great deal of information to the School Board on a weekly basis and should have included an update to the School Board in May, 2015 when both reports were available. I failed to do so and have personally apologized to each School Board member for this omission on my part. School Board members are 100% correct, they should not receive news about the Monroe County Schools through the media.
I regret that anything I have done or have failed to do has reflected poorly on the Monroe County Schools. I feel that many needed and necessary improvements have been made over the past 3 ½ years. Together, the School Board, Superintendent, district/building leadership and most importantly our hard-working employees have overcome many significant challenges to restore the public trust and confidence in the Monroe County Schools. I will do my best to see that this pattern of improvement continues as we still have a long way to go and I will learn from incidents such as this that occur along the way to improve my ability to effectively lead the Monroe County Schools.
Mark T. Porter Superintendent of Schools
9 thoughts on “Superintendent Porter Explains His Handling of Unaccounted for $20,000 in HOB Daycare Program Funds”
As usually seems to be the case, this statement only raises more questions than it provides answers. For example:
1.) Who was the bubba Daycare Manager who wasn’t rehired?
2.) What happened to the $20,739, and why are we calling it nearly $20k when it is really closer to $21k?
3.) How much money did we spend on the audit? That wouldn’t have been necessary if the theft hadn’t occurred. I see that the CPA firm that did the audit is out of Tampa. Did they send someone here in person to conduct interviews and collect the information? That surely must have cost thousands for a report that doesn’t go into any real details and essentially only states that $20,739 is missing.
4.) What is the exact timeline from the date money started being collected till the date it was determined that there was something wrong? To me, it looks like the $20,739 went missing not during the nine month audit period between 01 July 2014 and 31 March 2015, but during the much shorter period between the start of school on 18 August 2014 and Christmas break with the last day of school in December on 19 December 2014. Working that backwards into weeks means there was only a 17 week period for the $20,739 to disappear. That works out to $1,219 a week or nearly $250 for every working day!
One last comment:
The audit also determined that the ELC program is already 6 months in arrears with its billing. In other words, one program was pocketing $250 every working day, and another doesn’t know how much it is making/losing/leaking.
You “initiate” a daycare program and, from the beginning, do NOT train everyone how to properly collect and deposit money?
And you don’t reconcile the bank statement with the office records MONTHLY?!?!
That’s total incompetence from day one. Keeping up the fine tradition of Keys Bubbaism.
hwwesq, after reading Superintendent Porter’s CYA Confession, I’m leaning toward the bubba having stolen the $20,000, not toward bad record keeping. It is incomprehensible to me that Porter did not timely alert the School Board. Some bubba, or bubbas, had to end up with the $20,000, yes?
I see that the daycare manager at the center of it all has been identified as Tina Godfrey.
Nothing new about CORRUPTION and now who has the job to account for the loss and fix it. Maybe someone should resign.
I read the article and my first impression was that he seemed honest and sincere. I read the comments above and felt that they may have been a little aggressive but something did stick in my crawl I just wasn’t sure what it was..
I went back and reread the article today and it became clear. His statement “I was not confident a third inquiry by law enforcement or the State Attorney’s Office would bring forward a different result.”
The difference would be that an investigation done by the State Attorneys office would be a criminal investigation. If anyone lied they would go to jail. Things being what they are the bubba’s would most likely stick together but if there was enough evidence they may have threw someone under the bus.
The other thing that didn’t sit well with me was his assertion that he always tried to put the interest of the School District ahead of individuals in making decisions and that he was not “unaware of the personal impact” of the decisions.
He claimed that he was “solely accountable” so he should bare the personal impact rather than the School District. He should volunteer to repay the $20,739 out of his salary or bonuses.
If someone had stolen approximately $20,000 from his personal checking account I bet he would have involved law enforcement. If he was truly accountable for the missing funds I bet he would involve law enforcement.
I’m sure early on it became obvious where the money went but rather than offend a bubba he chose to simply not affix blame.
Is it to late to involve law enforcement now? This is still the matter of a missing $20,739 of tax payers money. That would be a teachers yearly salary.
After thought, the “unproductive results of two financial inquiries” were looking into the schools finances. A criminal investigation would have the added advantage of looking into the finances of the key persons involved.
The money must be found or call in the cops for what it is and that is theft. Then deal with that investigation.
It appears to me that more than one person is involved in the thief and by not moving forward means no one is willing to be the scapegoat.