WAUKEE, Iowa — The Waukee School District is being accused of spending $130,000 on items “not in the best interest of taxpayers” by the State Auditor’s Office.
Among the spending being questioned in the audit report released on Thursday is $83,234 spent on administrative retreats, $27,903 spent on furniture for the Superintendent’s office and $17,539 worth of purchases made on procurement cards.
WHO Channel 13 reports the questioned spending happened between July 1st, 2013 and December 31st, 2017.
Auditor Mary Mosiman says the review of the district’s finances came after complaints from citizens and legislators about alleged misconduct by the district’s Chief Operating Officer, Eric Rose. Rose was investigated in 2016 following reports that he was altering employee time records, using school property for personal use and soliciting donations to his son’s sports teams from district vendors.
That investigation found that Rose kept a snowblower owned by the district at his home, among other indiscretions. Three employees who reported Rose’s activity were later fired by the district and filed lawsuits against the district. Rose is still employed by the Waukee School District and was even given a raise by the district the year after the investigation into his activity.
More than half of the questioned spending by the district in the four-year period was on administrative retreats. The retreats were held annually to plan the upcoming school year. For three years they were held in Kansas City, then in Omaha in 2017. The auditor’s report says several employees questioned why the retreat would be held out-of-state. Employees drove themselves to the retreats but were reimbursed for mileage. Employees also say a district policy requiring double occupancy rooms was not followed by all who attended.
Waukee Superintendent Cindi McDonald released this statement following the publication of the audit report on Thursday:
"After reviewing the State Auditor’s report, our focus remains on doing what we do best and that is educating our students at the one of the highest level in the state, supporting our teachers, staff and principals, with a positive learning and growing environment. We acknowledge some of the findings noted in the report fail to reflect the high expectations we set for our district leaders. The audit findings confirm policy and procedural changes we have implemented or will be implementing, to strengthen our administrative and operations controls, protocols, policies and procedures. As a district, we continue to look for ways to improve, foster positive work environments, collaborate and create opportunities for our staff to continue to learn."