An audit of Fulton Science Academy Middle School raised enough questions that the Fulton Superintendent of Schools is planning audits of its sister schools, Fulton Sunshine Academy in Roswell and Fulton Science Academy High School.
Superintendent Robert Avossa presented the audit report to the Fulton School Board today, June 5, telling board members this summer they need to discuss how to proceed with relations among all county charter schools.
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Avossa said in his presentation and a letter to the board that the audit of the school–which remains a Fulton charter school until June 30, 2012–raises several concerns, including:
- Inappropriate vendor relationships, self-dealing, and conflicts of interest
- Concerns regarding the $19 million construction bond
- Lack of appropriate safety procedures for students during international field trips
- Poor security practices related to background criminal checks for staff
- Federal immigration issues related to staff
- Poor record and bookkeeping
- The lack of cooperation by FSAMS with the audit
Prior relationships with Grace Institute, which Principal Kenan Sener and Executive Director Ali Ozer had been board members, were cited as a problem. And the school's govering council's failure to advertise for bids when it again contracted with the company in Fall 2011 was another problem.
The payment of immigration services for spouses and employees of the elementary and high schools without compensation from them was another problem cited.
"How did this happen?" asked Catherine Maddox, the District 6 board member. "Over time, they've been a charter in Fulton for 10 years, and this is really just a snapshot of the last couple of years. How did this oversight happen or not happen?"
Avossa said the primary responsibility for oversight for all charter schools lies in the governing councils at these schools.
"That's why the conflict of interest is so critical. The very people responsible for overseeing these items have been shown to be in conflict of interest time and time again in this audit," the superintendent said. While the Fulton School Board can do things to mitigate the problems, "the real accountability lies at the local governance council. That's a primary concern."