Audit: School Board slow to report $27K theft from Shreveport elementary school

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Overall, the 195-page audit on the Caddo Parish School Board did not find significant issues, the Legislative Auditor did call out the School Board for not notifying him immediately when it was learned thousands of dollars were missing.

Ultimately, the missing money was traced back to University Elementary School bookkeeper Tracy Wood, who worked at University Elementary School for 16 years, who has now been charged with felony theft.

Wood was fired from University after a late 2017 yearly internal audit at the school  discovered that $26,753.23, from school fundraisers and events was missing, and Wood was the person responsible for depositing the money in the bank.

The Legislative Auditor, however, wasn’t notified until December 2018, and admonished the School Board by not contacting him when the theft was discovered.  

In January 2018, the CPSO auditing department filed a police report on the missing money with the Caddo-Shreveport Financial Task Force. The report sparked an investigation spanning four months as detectives traced checks received and their travels that followed.

But, with the investigation in hand, detectives were able to obtain an arrest warrant on May 18, 2018. Wood turned herself into authorities on May 26. She was employed by a bank at the time.

The Legislative Auditor concluded that University Elementary experienced a weakness in internal control, which resulted in a misappropriation of assets, and “the school didn’t have adequate internal controls in place to prevent or deter theft.”

But the auditor also said the actions taken by the School Board after the theft, which involved additional training of the principal were appropriate.

In its reply to the auditor, the School Board agreed and said it already has implemented additional controls in the school, as well as closer oversight by the School Board.

Mary Nash-Wood, director of communications for CPSB, said it’s important to keep in mind the findings in the audit are from between 2015 and early 2018 and are not recent.

She said when the administration learned through its internal auditors of a situation at University Elementary in which a now former employee was allegedly taking school funds through various means, the employee was terminated and turned over to law enforcement.

Wood, who bonded out of jail back in May, appeared in court in July, waived arraignment and pleaded not-guilty, but has not been back in court since. There is no future court date on Caddo Parish Dockets.

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