The state auditor says more than $109,000 worth of improper payments were found in a re-audit of the Mason City Community School District — and another investigation is underway to examine concerns in previous years.
The reaudit focused on records between July 2014 through June 30th of 2015 when Anita Micich was Mason City’s superintendent. State Auditor Mary Mosiman says improper vacation payouts were made to five former employees.
“We identified seven payouts,”Mosiman says. “Two of these employees received two payouts each…Six of these vacation payouts were considered not proper and they total $68,678.”
Mosiman says the former Mason City superintendent “initiated and approved” the vacation paid to two of those employees. Mosiman also says auditors determined the superintendent dramatically increased the salary for the district’s former business manager.
“The school board is to approve all service contracts and salary increases for the district,” Mosiman says. “However the former superintendent made a contract adjustment for the former business manager without board approval, which gave a 15.38 percent increase.”
The school board in the following year approved a three percent pay increase for staff who weren’t covered by a union contract, but the superintendent gave the business manager another 10 percent pay hike without board approval. His pay went up 26-and-a-half percent over the two year period. Auditor’s also found the district’s former human resources director got a nearly 10 percent pay boost.
“None of these salary adjustments were approved by the school board,” Mosiman says. “The board president’s signature was on the contract. It was placed there with an electronic signature.”
And auditors couldn’t determine who put that electronic signature on the employment contracts for those two employees.
Mosiman says it’s up to local prosecutors and state education officials to take any further action based on the “financial irregularities” her staff uncovered. The county attorney was not immediately available for comment this (Monday) morning when the auditor’s report was released. The school board will meet tonight at 5:30 and they’ll discuss the reaudit in open session.
In May of last year the Mason City school board held a three-minute-long meeting and voted to terminate Misich as superintendent, but did not reveal the reason for their action. It was a member of the school board who first called the state auditor’s office with concerns about vacation pay given to the district’s assistant superintendent and CFO as they were retiring.
(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)