Sophie B. Wright Charter School couldn’t provide supporting documentation for about $14,500 in credit card charges last fiscal year, according to auditors, but the school principal said most of that spending has since been accounted for.

Auditors pointed out flaws in the school’s credit card policy:

  • School employees extensively used five credit cards without prior approval in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.

  • Charter School Director Sharon Clark reviews and authorizes payment of credit card charges each month, but no one reviews her credit card usage.

The school also didn’t reconcile its financial records in a timely manner, and some entries in the accounting system were inaccurate, according to the audit by Silva Gurtner & Abney.

Auditors cited Sophie B. Wright for untimely recordkeeping the prior fiscal year, too. The school added new finance staff in 2012 and 2013 to deal with the problems.

The audit, dated Dec. 30 and released by the state auditor’s office Jan. 15, doesn’t mention the dollar amounts in question, but Clark said Monday that auditors took issue with $14,566 that school employees couldn’t find documents for.

The school has since located documentation for $12,900 of those charges, Clark said. That includes about $11,000 to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority for student bus tokens and $1,800 to Office Depot for supplies.

That leaves about $1,600 in unaccounted spending.

Clark said some of the financial records weren’t accurate or reconciled because prior staffers made mistakes and used different accounting software. Current staff went back to correct some of them.

To address the credit card issues, auditors recommended that the school require pre-approval of employees’ credit card usage, hold onto cards while employees aren’t using them and consider spending limits.

A board member should review Clark’s charges, auditors said.

In response to the audit, the school said it had hired Cynthia Grace of Grace Consulting to help the school get its finances in order. The board president will also monitor the school’s corrective action plan.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...