A Madison School District review of financial practices at Black Hawk Middle School found widespread disregard for proper accounting and money handling practices under then-principal Kenya Walker, who admitted using district credit cards for personal needs and oversaw school office operations so lax they allowed the theft of at least $1,000 from a school fundraiser and more than $10,500 in credit card charges for which the district has no receipt.
Walker, 45, who was paid $106,466 annually, effectively resigned on April 28 after spending months on a medical leave that began in late January and caused increasing concern among parents at the school. Also in January, the district hired external reviewer Shana Lewis to begin reviewing Black Hawk’s financial practices after concerns were noted by central office staff about spending there.
“We’re disappointed to learn of these actions by a former principal,” Superintendent Jen Cheatham said, calling what happened at the school a “rare but serious incident.”
Many of the problems noted in the review revolved around the use of some 15 district-issued credit and procurement cards that are to be used by school staff members for the purchase of low-cost goods, usually under $500. They are designed to eliminate the use of petty cash and personal funds that have to be reimbursed to staff later.
There is no good reason for a school district to issue credit cards to staff members. And if they do, there are ways to do it in which the school district is protected. For example, in many companies that have company credit cards, the cards are the responsibility of the employee and the company only pays for expenses after the employee submits the receipts and the expense is approved. That way, if an employee spends $10,500 and doesn’t have receipts, the employee is on the hook for paying that bill.
The utter lack of sensible financial controls is criminal.