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Fulton Science Academy's Probe Disputes School System's Audit Report

The charter middle school's board of governors took issue with the school system's report.

effectively won't exist after Saturday, when its charter with the Fulton County School System expires. But its board of governors responded today, June 28, to an audit report's findings with its own investigative report.

GlassRatner, a national specialty advisory services firm headquartered in Atlanta, performed an investigation into the audit report written by IAG Forensics, and it took issue with much of the report.

"Many of the alleged findings in the IAG Report are flawed, unsupported and inaccurate and the IAG Report failed to make factual findings based on actual data and evidence," the report's summary said.

GlassRatner's report said the inaccuracies stem from:

a. Inappropriate reliance on incomplete information;
b. Failure to disclose relevant information about certain events and transactions that show the practices of FSAMS are consistent with FCS schools;
c. An apparent fundamental lack of knowledge of the difference between Student Activity Funds vs. local/state tax dollars used for international field trips and the purchase of school uniforms; and
d. The substitution of unsupported assumptions instead of factual evidence.

GlassRatner went so far as to say this "raises a concern of competence and objectivity by the audit team members including members of the FCS Internal Audit Department."

Fulton County was accused of deviating from its own internal audit process by not holding an exit conference with Fulton Science Academy. Superintendent Robert Avossa's assertion of “Poor record and bookkeeping” was directly contradicted by the findings in the IAG report, which stated the books and records were well maintained and organized using methods to maintain vendor invoices that were consistent with other FCS schools.

Auditors made assumptions about unidentified individuals who participated in international trips, calling them security risks, when asking the school would have revealed all adult participants were either teachers, parents or guardians of the children who made the trips, GlassRatner's report said.

In questioning the immigration status of individuals and the funds the school used to support teachers and their families, the IAG report ignored the Fulton School System's own policy that does the same thing. Fulton County differed in using an independent service to help the staff.

As far as the $18.9 million bond issue and its accounting, GlassRatner also said failing to hold an exit interview left the IAG report coming to the wrong conclusions. One source has said the, which would force Fulton Science Academy to repay the entire issue, including the nearly $6 million already spent on land and pre-construction work such as grading and design.

"The IAG Report findings in connection with the alleged bond issues are non-issues and were a result of the auditors’ failure to perform appropriate audit process procedures," GlassRatner's report said.

The Fulton School System has been asked for comment on this response, and this story will be updated if any is made.

Jen Barton June 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM
So let me get this straight. Superintendent Avossa used my tax dollars to audit a school that was already closing. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that IAG broke FERPA privacy laws by publishing children’s names in this report(paid for by my taxes)! IAG issues a report that is basically garbage (using my tax dollars). Anyway, an independent and nationally recognized auditor goes on record saying that the IAG report (paid for by my tax dollars) is completely inaccurate, biased, and breaks CPA ethics laws. Superintendent Avossa personal report to the school board about IAG’s report is also inaccurate and appears to be misleading the board members. Superintendent Avossa is now paying for (with more of my tax dollars) these same IAG clowns to audit two other FSA schools. Really? It appears that Superintendent Avossa must not have read the report from IAG or else he never would have allowed this apparent piece of garbage to be released. He has now made himself and the Fulton County School Board members look like fools because they obviously didn’t read the report either because 1) they would not have allowed it to be released..and 2) they would have realized that Superintendent Avossa’s report to them was just as inaccurate. I hope the board members take the appropriate action to ask for Avossa’s resignation for this “egregious” act of wasting my tax dollars, misleading the board members, and being negligent in his duties (not to mention breaking FERPA laws).
Julie June 28, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Jen. Did you actually expect the board to read anything? Don't you remember the report on the child abuse at Hopewell Middle School which showed that multiple children were abused. The Fulton County School Board members were asked why they didn't alert the other parents that the report uncovered that their children were also abused at the school (which is a law I think). Those parents could have protected their children if the board members had notified them. Linda Schultz's only response was that she "didn't read the report".....unbelievable....she found out after it was on the news...amazing. Maybe she needs to resign as well. Reported in the news "Fulton County School Board President Linda Schultz testified she did not know more than one student was abused by a special education teacher, because she didn't read the investigative report. Schultz testified that she did not know other children were abused, until she saw news coverage about it in 2011"
Roswell Parent June 28, 2012 at 04:46 PM
That original “audit” report has sure gotten a lot of press for something that states it wasn’t intended for general publication. I still think the strangest part is that Dr. Avossa had a 90 minute briefing with the AJC before FSA had the chance to rebut the points, as set forth in Fulton schools own audit procedures. If they had, most of the points in the report would not have been an issue at all. Makes me think the whole thing was to get public opinion to back the charter denial. Must be hard to justify closing #1 middle school in Fulton county for 4 years running in all 4 CRCT subjects.
Terry June 28, 2012 at 05:17 PM
You are correct, the reason they were rushing the audit was to get it done in time to prevent the State from approving the charter on their level. Although the audit didn't quite make it in time, they still had enough influence to get it denied (and the fact that the State Board members didn't bother to read the rebuttal by FSA's Board to the points made in the denial recommendation. The releasing of this now was solely to hurt the FSAPS' image to the public and to set up the audits being performed on the ES & HS so they can close them prior to their charter being due in 3 years. At some point, I think a lawsuit for liable/slander needs to be brought against FCSS and/or Avossa. I think the abuse of authority needs to end now...
Terry June 28, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Yes, they (the Board and Avossa whom they hired) have not acted in the best interest of the taxpayers in many ways, among them: 1.) Closing a school that had a waiting list greater than the number of students enrolled there, 2.) Using taxpayer money to perform an audit on a school it has already denied a charter to, 3.) Performing audits on sister schools despite the inaccuracies of the first one, 4.) Lying about the purpose of the audit to the taxpayers on TV (Avossa changed his mind several times but eventually said ON AIR that it was to monitor assets as FSA changes to a private school. A complete fallacy since the audit began in February and FSA didn't decide to go private until MAY), 5.) Denying some taxpayers the right to attend the meeting where they denied the charter (and violating federal occupancy laws in the process) in December, 6.) Violating FERPA laws by releasing students' names in the audit report. and there are more... It seems to me that Avossa and the entire Board that hired him need to go - this group has absolutely no accountability to government officials and they have been abusing their powers unchecked. Vote for Rob Goodman who is running for Schultz' seat on the FCSB - that is the first step and I think the vote is next month. www.VoteRobGoodman.com

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