Audit finds health care, cafeteria problems in Harrisburg Schools

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Auditor General released troubling findings after a multi-year audit of the Harrisburg City School District.

The audit examined the district’s operations between October 2010 and March 2015, and offers five major findings and 19 recommendations. Areas of interest include the district’s use of non-licensed health care aides and poor cafeteria management.

When it came to cafeteria operations, the audit revealed as much as $1.6 million dollars was forfeited by the district, for a failure to properly track the number of school lunches it served.

“Our auditors heard stories that the cafeteria was basically in chaos,” says Eugene DePaaquale, PA Auditor General. “Not for the whole time, but for periods of time. In fact, sometimes, there were not even enough cafeteria workers to staff the cash registers.”

DePasquale says the majority of students in the Harrisburg School District receive either free or reduced lunches, so the lack of cash register staff didn’t encourage stealing. “But it hurt the district, because they’re not able, without proper tracking, to get reimbursements from the federal government,” he adds.

The district was also found to have been in violation of a state code that regulates health care in schools. The audit found during the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 school years, the district hired unlicensed health care aides.

“The unlicensed health care aides were responsible for things like dispensing medicine, giving flu shots, providing first aid and maintaining health records,” explained DePasquale. “Without the health care license, and the appropriate training that comes with it, unlicensed aides have a greater risk of making mistakes.”

DePasquale says the violation is not punishable by a fine, but the district could forfeit up an estimated $32,989 in state subsidies from the PA Department of Education.

An overall audit of district finances found the Harrisburg School District has worked hard to get its fiscal house in order, and is currently operating under its most robust general fund in years. However, the district continues to struggle in the area of property tax collection and debt.

To read the entire report, click HERE.

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