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AUDIT finds missing money, unauthorized pay to employees

JENNINGS, Okla. (AP) _ School officials and prosecutors withheld comment on a state audit that found more than $8,000 missing from the school lunch account in Jennings, as well as unauthorized pay for several employees.

Investigators found a shortage of $3,800 for the 1998-99 school year, and $4,640 for 1999-2000, a report released Monday said. In addition, $412 received for classroom pictures and yearbooks apparently was not deposited in the school's bank account, said Jeff McMahon of the state auditor's office.

In a separate finding, auditors recommended that school officials find a way to return $847 collected in an illegal raffle that was suspended last fall. Participants paid $1 each for a chance to win a $100 bill. State law bars such raffles.

A former office secretary gave herself an unauthorized $2,500 salary increase and paid her daughter an additional $7,800 for clerical work, the audit found.

School board members denied signing paperwork approving the raises. They told investigators that their signatures had been forged, according to the report.

Former Superintendent Ron Wolf suspended the two women in charge of the activities fund with pay in November. Shortly thereafter, Wolf went on medical leave and later resigned.

According to the audit report, Wolf told the Pawnee County sheriff's office that he was looking into some irregularities at the school and that he suspected his phones were being tapped.

The dependent Jennings district, located about 30 miles west of Tulsa, has about 170 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Auditors seized files, receipt books and teachers' lunchroom collection records in their search for any missing funds.

According to the report, there are no records of cash deposits made from July 1, 1998, through June 30, 2000. The report found receipts for only $85.80 in November 1998 and $107.85 in November 1999, compared with $1,585.48 in November 2000.

The audit reveals that only checks written by parents for school lunches were deposited and had proper receipts. The only other funds in the child nutrition account were electronic transfers from the state Education Department.

Findings and recommendations have been turned over to state School Superintendent Sandy Garrett's office, school officials and the Pawnee County district attorney.

The new Jennings superintendent, Bill Russell, said Monday he would not comment on the report until he and school board members have an opportunity to study it in detail.

District Attorney Larry Stuart said Monday through a secretary that it would be another week before his office completes its review of the findings.

Garrett did not return phone calls Monday.

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