Supt. response to school equipment audit: 'It's alarming, it's u - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Supt. response to school equipment audit: 'It's alarming, it's unacceptable'

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A news conference was held Tuesday afternoon, intended to bring perspective to the shocking numbers released Monday. A news conference was held Tuesday afternoon, intended to bring perspective to the shocking numbers released Monday.
"Obviously, when you have missing assets of any amount that were purchased with taxpayer dollars, it's disappointing, it's alarming, it's unacceptable," said SCS Supt. Hopson. "Obviously, when you have missing assets of any amount that were purchased with taxpayer dollars, it's disappointing, it's alarming, it's unacceptable," said SCS Supt. Hopson.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Shelby County Schools is responding to an audit that revealed $48.4 million in school equipment is missing from the district.

A news conference was held Tuesday afternoon, intended to bring perspective to the shocking numbers released Monday.

The audit, completed by Maryland-based ProBar, reported that the more than 54,000 pieces of missing equipment include laptops, tools, hard drives, and driver-training cars.

"We obviously have a very big issue that we'd like to discuss," said SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson Tuesday afternoon. "Obviously, when you have missing assets of any amount that were purchased with taxpayer dollars, it's disappointing, it's alarming, it's unacceptable."

According to Hopson, the findings of the audit, which was conducted at the school board's request, were a big surprise.

This was the first in-depth audit of both SCS and the former MCS in an estimated 30 years, but even so, officials admit there are problems that need fixing.

"Some of it is human error, some of it is theft, some of it is poor record keeping," said Hopson. "I think some of it is poor processes and procedures."

"I think whatever problems we have, there's local talent and talent within our school community to solve the problem," said SCS Board Member Billy Orgel.

Hopson plans to present recommendations to the board within 30 days regarding how to improve internal controls.

"There are processes we know you can improve upon and you can expect us to do that," said Kevin Woods.

Parents of students in the district are concerned about where the equipment went, especially since it seems that various school fees continue to rise.

"There's always an increase in the book rental fees and different fees," said Jovona Winsley, who has three kids in SCS schools. "Everything is always going up so why is this stuff disappearing, yet my kids need all these things at school. So we need to find out what happened."

Taxpayers are offering suggestions as to what happened to the equipment.

"I'm pretty sure people inside both school systems were like well this stuff, probably won't need it anymore or something to that effect. It's out there, might as well take it. Nobody will miss it," suggested Daven Donald.

"I think it was just hidden all the time. I didn't think this merger had anything to do with it," said Sharon Buckner. "It's just been hidden under the covers and now it's just coming to light."

But as they speculate, SCS leaders say they plan to collaborate with businesses and other entities to get answers.

"Being a parent of three children in Shelby County Schools, I don't want to see a dime wasted," said SCS Board Member Chris Caldwell. "This is very important. We needed it to get corrected, but at some point we really need to focus on educating our children and focusing on student achievement."

School board members say an inventory audit shows antiquated processes dictated modern operations and that the unaccounted inventory piled up over more than 30 years.

"Now is the opportunity to improve upon those processes, not take this as an opportunity to say, 'Well, Shelby County has failed its taxpayers,' because at the end of the day these are processes that we know we can improve upon and you can expect us to do that," added Woods.

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