Audit Shows Possible Criminal Violations At Broken Arrow Schools

Thursday, June 9th 2011, 12:16 pm
By: News On 6 & Ashli Sims, News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state auditor's office finally released its report on Broken Arrow Public Schools, two years after an audit was originally requested.

The 84-page audit found possible criminal violations in two areas.

Read the audit report of Broken Arrow Schools

The district first came under scrutiny in the fall of 2008, when the school board fired then Superintendent Doctor Jim Sisney.

He claims he was fired because he questioned the district's preferential treatment of a heating and cooling company, Air Assurance. It's a claim Air Assurance owners have flatly denied.

"It has been frustrating and stressful and long. But all along we looked for the results to come out in a positive way. We knew it would. So it was worthwhile for the wait," Mike Rampey, owner of Air Assurance, said.

[Read Air Assurance's statement regarding the results of the audit below]

The audit took on several accusations that had been lobbed against the company, including that Air Assurance performed work on a medical building and billed the school district for it, that they performed work that hadn't been requested, and that they were overcharging the district.

Auditors found all of those claims to be untrue.

"There were so much speculation, rumors and lies that had been out there. So I think they addressed everything. And it's very comprehensive. And it looks like they covered everything, covered all the bases," Rampey said.

The audit confirmed that Broken Arrow Public Schools did not follow competitive bidding laws. But the auditors say these violations were due to "inadequate training," and not a deliberate intention to break the law.

Jarod Mendenhall, Superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools, said changes have already been made.

"This is a great place," Mendenhall said.  "Broken Arrow is a great community, they have great people and I'm ready to move on."

The district can't move on yet, because the report released Thursday is not complete.

Two items - a section on open records and special favoritism to vendors - were excluded from release. The Attorney General's office is still investigating those areas for possible criminal violations.

"My office will continue to review allegations of wrongdoing in the remainder of the audit and seek prosecution of individuals who are criminally responsible," Scott Pruitt said.

"It is a little bit frustrating as a superintendent, because I wanted all of it to be done," Mendenhall said. "But it will be done soon enough and I think when that happens we'll be able to truly heal as a community."

The audit was originally requested by the school district back in the spring of 2009. A draft of that audit was leaked to the media last fall and then State Auditor Steve Burrage decided to shelve the report and start over.

9/1/2010 Related Story: State Auditor Decides To Redo Broken Arrow School District Audit

Statement from Air Assurance owner Mike Rampey:

"We are pleased, but not surprised, with the results of the State Auditor' Report requested by the Attorney General. The audit confirms what we have said all along- we did nothing wrong. As the auditor has demonstrated through his unbiased work, the lies and falsehoods about us spread by others with agendas have no merit.

We encourage all citizens to read the audit report and see how then State Auditor Steve Burrage protected the public interest by stopping the release of an earlier, biased and misleading draft audit report.

We thank all of our customers, employees and friends who have stood by us while we waited for the truth to come out. Along with all other Oklahomans, we look forward to Attorney General Pruitt's further law enforcement work concerning the unreleased, confidential sections of the audit."