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LA schools' inspector general pleads for additional funding



Ken Teegardin/flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of Inspector General is requesting another $1.8 million to address a growing number of concerns with charter schools, technology expansion and school finance. 

"The OIG needs to secure ongoing discretionary funds in order to adequately plan its work and activities as required by its Charter and government auditing standards," according to a report from Ken Bramlett, the inspector general.

Since 2009, funding for the inspector general decreased by 46 percent, diminishing staffing and creating a backlog of audits and investigations, according to the report.

Bramlett declined to comment before presenting the report to the board's Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee, but his office recently reopened an investigation into the district's $500 million iPad purchase.

Emails published by KPCC in August showed Superintendent John Deasy and executives at Apple and Pearson discussed a potential partnership a year before the technology project was put to competitive bid. Their discussions included details that later resembled bidding requirements.

The Office of the Inspector General released an audit of the district's technology inventory  in July, finding thousands of laptops, iPads and desktops were unaccounted for or stolen. 

In June, auditors found questionable financial practices in Magnolia Public Schools, a network of eight area charter schools. Auditors allege the management organization had a deficit of $1.7 million and took in $2.8 million from school sites in the form of controversial loans, prompting the school board to order the closure of some of the campuses. 

However, classes remain in session while Magnolia Public Schools fights in court to keep the campuses open. Representatives from Magnolia defended their financial practices.

To help fund current and future audits and investigations, the inspector general is requesting six new auditor positions, three investigative positions and one computer forensic examiner.

The inspector general wants to increase discretionary funds from $63,000 to $300,000 for subcontracting audits, training auditors and investigators and technology costs. He recommends a 5 percent annual increase to the discretionary budget every year to keep pace with rising costs.