Fayette school officials: All E-SPLOST funds handled properly

Fayette County School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow.
Fayette County School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow.

Finance official said system’s accounting followed state law — 

The Fayette County Board of Education at its June 3 work session addressed alleged improprieties with ESPLOST (Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) made May 20 by a former finance department bookkeeper. The board expressed their satisfaction with the school system’s current procedures and accountability.

The June 3 discussion came after former finance department bookkeeper Diana Parlier at the May 20 board meeting cited allegations of financial improprieties with ESPLOST funds and employee expense claims. The school system responded to the allegations the following day, noting Parlier’s statements and saying those allegations are being reviewed.

On the June 3 agenda under the Superintendent’s Report section, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Tom Gray presented a lengthy report on the school system’s three ESPLOST funds and earnings, how they are used, invested and accounted for. The procedures used by the school system conform to state law and have been deemed compliant with state law, Gray said.

Gray also noted that the accounting operations for ESPLOST funds are public record.

“Tom and I take this seriously,” said Superintendent Jody Barrow. “We want the citizens to feel confident about our financial practices. I believe this answers the questions raised.”

Board members by consensus agreed, and did not believe an additional audit needed to be performed.

Board member Barry Marchman during the discussion noted that Parlier in her May 20 comments also raised questions about issues with employee expense claims.

“I’m satisfied with the ESPLOST,” Marchman said of Gray’s presentation. “But I want to make sure we understand all the allegations.”

Barrow responded, saying, “We’ll try to provide whatever you need.”

Parlier, who was fired from the school system in May, during public comments noted her work and direct involvement with the finance department. She said ESPLOST funds had been commingled with other accounts, which is against state law. In addition, those funds are being misappropriated and used to generate revenue through interest-bearing accounts. There is no accounting to those interest-bearing dollars, which amount to millions of dollars, Parlier said.

Parlier on May 20 also stated that some employee expense claims are being paid without proper supervision and board approval.