Success Academy’s First State Audit: Let the Pouting Begin
On December 19, 2016, New York Deputy Comptroller Marjorie Landa released this financial audit of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter schools.
In March 2014, Moskowitz sued to prevent then-Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli from auditing her schools, and a Manhattan judge ruled in her favor. The judge declared that the Comptroller did not have authority to audit New York charter schools because the schools are not “units of the state.” This meant that Moskowitz could receive state funds and public accounting for such funds was now out of view of the public.
In April 2014, the law changed; New York State charter schools would no longer escape audit, and in October 2014, Success Academy charter schools made the list of those to be audited.
The audit has taken two years and spans July 01, 2012, to June 30, 2015– or fiscal years 2013 to 2015.
In a letter that summarizes Landa’s findings regarding fiscal management of Success Academy schools, Comptroller Scott Stringer tells the public that Success Academy “did not adequately oversee its fiscal affairs,” including “bill[ing] the Department of Education (DOE) for special education services that were not documented.”
The full audit document is 81 pages long and includes a 27-page response from Success Academy. (The inclusion of a written response from the audited party addressing the auditor’s findings is usual procedure.)
I was especially interested in the Success Academy response, primarily because Eva Moskowitz is so controlling that I did not expect her to be sloppy with finances.
Here is where I write what might surprise many of my readers:
After reading the Success Academy response to the irregularities cited in the audit, I believe that Success Academy has accounted well for such seeming discrepancies.
Success Academy believes it has been unfairly treated and that the comptroller was not being “objective.” An excerpt from Success Academy’s response:
It has become increasingly clear that the Comptroller is not conducting this investigation in an impartial and objective matter. The Comptroller’s standard operating procedure is to share a Preliminary Draft Report with the entity being audited and then conduct an Exit Conference at which the entity may propose corrections and provide additional documentation. In every single case over the last six months in which the Comptroller has issued an audit report indicating the date of the Preliminary Draft Report and Exit Conference, the Comptroller has allowed the entity being audited at least 10 business days to prepare for the Exit Conference after issuing its Preliminary Draft Report. In the case of the sole charter school with such information to be audited during this period, the exit conference did not take place until 21 business days after the Preliminary Draft Report….However, with respect to Success Academy, the Comptroller issued a 31-page Preliminary Draft Report on the afternoon of November 23, the daySuccess Academy’s First State Audit: Let the Pouting Begin | deutsch29: