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State auditor cites alarming operational failures in school districts

JACKSON, Mississippi — More than one in three Mississippi public school districts failed to account for all of the students reported as enrolled in schools in their districts, the Office of the State Auditor said in a report released Friday that said many districts failed to live up to many of their responsibilities.

In one of the more troubling findings, the auditors said more than 95 percent of school districts neglected to follow policies on absenteeism or fully report unexcused absences. Further, only one district provided bound textbooks for classes selected for review by the auditors.

To prepare the 2012-2013 Mississippi Student Information System (MSIS) School Audits Comprehensive Annual Report, the auditor’s office audited 46 school districts totaling 146 schools across the state.

The audits reviewed the actions in the following categories: student enrollment, student absentee reporting, truancy reporting, graduation, suspensions, historical postings, teacher endorsements, textbook distribution, property internal controls, vehicle markings, and school safety.

Findings from the 2012-2013 school audits:

• 35 percent of districts failed to account for all of the students being reported to MSIS as being enrolled and in attendance

• 96 percent of districts failed to verify student residency

• 96 percent of districts are not following policy regarding absenteeism and 98 percent of districts were not following policy regarding reporting unexcused absences to the State

• 22 percent of districts graduated students who had not met graduation requirements

• 85 percent of districts did not report suspensions as unexcused absences

• Only percent of the schools audited were in compliance with safety rules and regulations

• Only 1 (2 percent) of the 46 districts audited provided textbooks (traditional bound books or other supplementary material) to each student enrolled in the selected classes

“Many of these findings are alarming, but I am encouraged many schools are making improvements,” Pickering said. “My Office will continue to audit schools to ensure policies are being followed and school funding is being handled properly.”

School audits for the 2013-2014 school year will begin on Oct 16.


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