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.
CORRECTION: A reference to Fulton County on immigration services was reversed, and has been corrected in the copy below.
Fulton Science Academy Middle School 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 bond issue has been called, 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.