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De Soto School District Earns 'Fair' Grade In State Audit

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The De Soto School District can improve its tracking of employee compensation, contracts, attendance reporting and handling of lunch and athletic money, according to a state review of the school system’s accounting.

The Missouri state auditor released an audit of De Soto schools Wednesday evening. The report lists 12 findings, including some that require immediate attention, earning the district a rating of “fair.” State audits earn one of four rankings, from excellent, to good, fair or poor.

“Overall what we found is that the board had put many policies in place and the administration was not following those policies appropriately or didn’t have the systems in place to follow what the board had put in place,” State Auditor Nicole Galloway said.

State audits typically uncover at least some issues or room for improvement. A 2018 audit of the Hazelwood School District also earned a score of “fair.” Hannibal schools were given a “good” rating in 2015, but Fox School District was listed as “poor” in 2016.

De Soto educates just under 3,000 students living in parts of Jefferson, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.

The audit began in April 2018 following a resident petition drive. Parents were concerned over the departure of the Vineland Elementary principal, which the district acknowledged involved principal Adam Grindstaff’s use of district funds. (The audit did not look into the matter because of pending litigation.)

The audit comes at a cost of $75,000 to the district.

Nicole Galloway poses for a portrait at St. Louis Public Radio. March, 22, 2018
Credit File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

State auditors found De Soto over-reported instructional time of homebound students, resulting in overpayment of $30,000 in state funding. District administrators said they’re working with the state education department on repaying the money.

The De Soto Board of Education has also canceled a $500 monthly car allowance for the superintendent after auditors raised questions about it. And the district is implementing a new time-keeping system for employees.

“This audit is already getting results for the citizens that requested it,” Galloway said.

The audit’s findings were not surprising, Superintendent Josh Isaacson said.

“I think there’s things that we learned as a district that will help us be better as a district,” he said in an interview. “Everybody can improve, always improve.”

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.