Friday, August 31, 2018

Last Day of School

After I was late yesterday

Sat in the front row today: 

Harvard admissions ‘may be infected with racial bias,’ DOJ says

Well, if they just stall a little while longer maybe the case can be dropped.

"School accounts rife with questionable spending, sloppy bookkeeping" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  August 31, 2018

Student activity accounts and other funds managed directly by individual Boston public schools across the city are rife with questionable spending and sloppy bookkeeping, including countless missing receipts and invoices, according to an outside audit.

The audit found problems at nearly every one of the 118 schools it examined, some minor, some significant. They mirror those found by the IRS last year when it examined just 16 schools. Like the IRS probe, the new audit also found a pattern of schools dipping into student activity accounts or other funds to pay school or city employees off the books for extra duties and not reporting the earnings to the IRS.

But their concern is the kids!

Mayor Martin J. Walsh ordered the review, which was conducted by the accounting firm Ernst & Young, after the IRS probe raised questions about whether the problems it uncovered were rampant across the district. The city has never audited the student activity accounts before, even though state law requires an annual review and a formal audit every three years for any student activity account exceeding $25,000.

Which means they broke the law.

Did they teach you what happens to those who break the law?

The strict audit rules are for good reason. Student activity accounts must be used only to support experiences outside the classroom that supplement a student’s education, such as field trips, student clubs, and special events, including proms. Money is typically generated by fund-raisers, unsolicited donations, and ticket sales for student events.

The review found no questionable spending that rises to the level of a criminal investigation, although city and school officials plan to probe a handful of cases where concerns over spending persists.

Some ARE above the law. 

That is your le$$on for the day!

Interim Superintendent Laura Perille said the systemwide audit has already resulted in greater accountability, transparency, and managerial control. The results of each school’s review are being posted on the School Department’s website. The Globe and two other media outlets received a preview on Thursday.

“Accounts are now well managed and monitored, so, moving forward, families and partners should have confidence when raising funds for schools and students that the money will be used in an appropriate manner,” Perille said in an interview. “I think from BPS’s perspective, we are viewing this as an opportunity to correct sort of decades-old past practices that made it very hard for schools to have a clear road map on how to do this right.”

I can see why the kids fall asleep in the classes. Bunch of public relations babble.

As for the $lu$h funds, the school $y$tem must think you are stupid (of course, you have graduated by now, right?).

Many of the new policies and procedures have been in the works since the IRS probe and have largely been implemented. The IRS levied a $30,000 fine and significant blame on School Department headquarters for failing to create uniform procedures, policies, and staff training to ensure appropriate spending.

In one significant move, schools are now required to place all student activity funds in a citywide master bank account, where money will be dispersed through the city’s payment system. The school system also ordered schools last year to stop using ATM cards associated with the student activity accounts and to destroy them.

The review found the ATM cards and other noncheck transactions, such as wire transfers and PayPal, were quite popular with the schools, accounting for $887,229 in withdrawals over a four-year period. Such transactions make it difficult to track how money is being spent.

City and school officials said they still don’t know exactly how many school accounts exist and what the total amount is, but Perille said they estimate that student activity account spending makes up less than a half percent of the school system’s $1.2 billion budget, or less than $6 million.

Yeah, it's only a mea$ly $5 million dollars, le$$ than half a percent. Drop in the bucket you'll never miss (unlike that one in your classroom).

The School Committee plans to adopt other policy changes in September.

It remains unclear why so many schools did not keep receipts or invoices. Auditors, like those at the IRS, experienced difficulty in determining whether spending was appropriate because many schools were commingling student activity funds with other accounts, such as those for parent councils, and failed to record what money was being used for which purposes.

Actually, I think it IS pretty clear why!

Consequently, the scope of the review broadened beyond student activity accounts to include other funds. Among the findings:

■ The Murphy K-8 School in Dorchester was faulted for failing to fill out proper paperwork for some vendors, potentially preventing the IRS from collecting appropriate taxes. For instance, the Murphy spent $1,391 at the Blarney Stone restaurant in 2014 and $756 in 2015, paid Scholastic Book Fair $41,220 over three years, and gave the Globe Santa charity $619.

They gonna give it back?

■ New Mission High School in Hyde Park was unable to produce 49 banks statements for a student activity account that had an ATM card and had only two years of spending records. The school, which closed the account in January, did not know how it would pay for graduation, prom, and other student activities for the rest of the year.....

There is always the option to cut, I mean, cancel.


You are lucky if you made it to school:

"Walsh voices frustration, apologizes for missing, late school buses" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  August 30, 2018

As school bus routes ran late or went uncovered for a third day, Mayor Martin J. Walsh voiced frustration Thursday afternoon, apologizing to families, schools, and students for the hardships they are experiencing.

“To the parents that hear this, I want to apologize. This should not be happening,” Walsh said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Seaport, according to a transcript of his remarks. “I want to apologize for the inconvenience over the last couple of days, and I am hopeful in the very near future, like tomorrow, that this is resolved.” 

Oh, the OPTICS!!!!

Walsh said he received a report just before the ribbon cutting that all the scheduled buses had not shown up again. The problem is affecting a small number of schools — mostly independent charters — that have started their school year early, but city and school officials are worried the problem could grow worse when the school system officially opens on Sept. 6.

It was a ceremony for a parking garage(!), and the aide whispered it into his ear like Andy Card did to Bush on that oh so fateful day ("Sir, the buses aren't running again.")

“I’m working on it,” Walsh said. “I’m certainly not happy about it at all. To be quite honest with you, it’s pretty annoying and frustrating that I have to read in the paper about parents who are concerned about their child being picked up, and that will be corrected.” 


The problems, however, could run deeper than just contract negotiations. Walsh revealed Thursday that the school system’s transportation director, John Roderick, who was just hired earlier this year, abruptly left the job a few weeks ago. Roderick previously worked for Transdev and the MBTA. According to the school system, Roderick left Aug. 24 and moved to New York City.

Yeah, blame it on the guy who saw this coming and warned you about it. 

They have known the contract was in trouble all summer, and then they act like it came out of the blue.

Walsh also suggested in his remarks that Transdev may not have hired enough drivers. 

Called passing the buck.

“You have the whole summer to figure out exactly how many drivers need to be hired and how many spots need to be filled, and then it seems like they wait until the week of, and all of a sudden we don’t have enough drivers, so I honestly don’t think it’s a labor issue,” Walsh said. “Even if it was a labor issue, it shouldn’t affect picking up kids for school.”

It's good enough for the legislature when passing a state budget.

In the meantime, the transportation department’s customer service manager, Delavern Stanislaus, has temporarily stepped in as interim director, even though the position requires someone to have deep knowledge about how to route buses in Boston’s traffic clogged streets.....

OMG, they put a PR GUY in charge because he knows how to talk to angry parents!


First class of the day was history:

On Labor Day, a celebration of ‘Rosies,’ the women who kept the factories churning during WWII

Having seen that, I would have expected better from the Globe than the clickbait advertising on the web. They mu$t really be hurting; however, serves them right. 

Now they are celebrating Labor by associating it with a World War. Is that where we are headed? Women can be drafted now, too.

Can't even leave the kid with day care:

"Police arrest woman who allegedly planned to ‘shoot up’ heroin while baby-sitting 6-year-old" by Emily Sweeney Globe Staff  August 30, 2018

Hingham police arrested a woman after she allegedly said she planned to shoot up heroin while she was baby-sitting a 6-year-old boy.

Police said Laura E. Larosa, 25, of Hull, was riding an MBTA bus with the child on Saturday when she was overheard having a phone conversation about how she was going to “shoot up” heroin in the bathroom of a nearby business and that she would have the child “turn around” so he wouldn’t see it, the press release said.

A tipster who overheard the conversation notified police and said the woman and boy were last seen walking toward the Station Street bus depot. At 2:42 p.m., officers were sent to the area and quickly located Larosa walking with the child on Station Street, the release said.

When officers spoke with her, they noticed she was holding a folded piece of paper. She told them she was baby-sitting the boy and denied having any drugs, the release said.

“Officers explained the report they had received and their concern for the child,” the release said.

“The woman then admitted the folded paper in her hand contained a small bag of heroin. Officers found an additional small bag of heroin, a burned metal spoon and a digital scale in her backpack.”

(Key music)

Officers contacted the boy’s mother, who immediately sent a relative to pick up the child..... 

They must have been out of their mind when they got that call.


Look who won a Golden Ticket:

"After a six-month investigation dubbed “Operation Golden Ticket,” two career criminals were arraigned Thursday for their alleged roles in running a multistate burglary enterprise victimizing more than a dozen commercial businesses and ATMs, and netting more than $300,000 in stolen goods. William “Willy Wonka” Rodriguez, 47, of Lawrence, and Nelson “Pito” Rodriguez, 43, of Westerly, R.I., pleaded not guilty in Essex Superior Court to charges of breaking and entering, receiving stolen motor vehicles, and conspiracy. The two men are not related. An alleged coconspirator, Marilyn Santiago, 38, of Lawrence, was also arraigned and pleaded not guilty to charges of accessory after the fact to a felony and conspiracy....."