Fayette schools plan to open hotline to report waste, fraud, other problems

Continuing to address problems that state Auditor Adam Edelen found in 2014, officials with Fayette County Public Schools said Monday that by early 2016, a hotline could be operating for anonymous reports of waste, fraud, abuse and noncompliance.

After a special examination, Edelen released 10 findings that he said indicated "chronic mismanagement of the district's budget and finances that have contributed to financial instability."

Among several recommendations was that the district establish a system through which waste, fraud and abuse could be reported.

Human resources director Jennifer Dyar said at Monday's school board meeting that several responses to Edelen's findings have been completed. Staff members are undergoing training to prevent conflicts of interest. A staffing task force will make a recommendation next month to improve the budgeting process and the allocation of staff to schools. A compliance officer has been hired to make sure district staff comply with laws and regulations.

Also Monday, new superintendent Manny Caulk, who had surgery last month to remove a malignant tumor from his sinuses, released a statement explaining whey he had attended some recent meetings but not Monday's school board meeting.

"While I remain engaged in the daily operations of the district, I have to limit my appearances at public events, he said. "I hope to be back to full speed soon."

Caulk has met since his surgery with school board members at a retreat where they agreed to several governing policies.

One is that board members will "make no independent commitments or take any independent actions" that might compromise the board as a team.

Caulk also has made revisions to his entry plan as a result of his surgery. He attended a listening session with advocates and parents in Cardinal Valley this month, but the majority of listening sessions will be pushed to January. Some will be invitation-only, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said, and others will be open to the community.