CASTAIC — Trustees have approved guidelines for an independent audit of the Castaic Union School District, but have not yet authorized the financial examination itself because they don't know how much it will cost.
As outlined Tuesday night, the review includes checking district income and spending patterns for the past four years, evaluating business and personnel departments and examining enrollment projections for the next three to five years. It would be the first management audit of the district in more than 10 years.
Board members asked for the proposed review by the Los Angeles County Office of Education's Management Assistance Team in July after disclosures involving Supt. Scott Brown's use of a district credit card for personal items that were later repaid. Critics questioned $1,259 in charges by Brown for items that included travel expenses, hotel stays, car rentals and gifts.
The cost of the audit and the decision whether to commission all of it, is expected to come at the board's December meeting, the last session that will include Brown's most vocal critic--Trustee Gloria Mercado.
"The audit should be very comprehensive. A minimum audit isn't enough," said Mercado, who was defeated earlier this month in her reelection bid.
Mercado and candidates Wendi Milka and Ethel Matlen ran unsuccessfully on a platform that criticized Brown's performance and blamed weak curriculum for poor test scores by students. Newcomers Dirk Gosda and Nora Emmons are scheduled to begin their service on the board midway through the December meeting, with incumbent Irene Massey returning for another term.
In a letter presented to trustees Tuesday, the accounting firm that regularly reviews the district's financial matters echoed earlier comments that Brown's use of the credit card was "in poor judgment" but not necessarily illegal.
Accountant Gary Cox said the reimbursement by Brown "casts doubt on the financial integrity of the district office."
"We believe that the personal use of a district credit card, even though immediately reimbursed, is in poor judgment," Cox said. "This type of use, while generally not prohibited, exposes the district and superintendent to possible accusations of illegal acts, either intentionally or unintentionally."
Cox recommended either discarding the credit card in favor of reimbursable expense reports or prohibiting all personal charges.