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School board member calls for Tulsa Public Schools forensic audit

Posted at 5:46 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 11:55:22-04

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa Public School Board member is raising concerns about how the superintendent Deborah Gist is handling district finances. Now, he's asking state leaders to take a closer look.

Dr. Jerry Griffin, TPS School Board Member (District 6), wants the state auditor to conduct a forensic audit on the school district for the past six years, which is the time Dr. Gist served as superintendent.

“We just passed a bond issue, because supposedly we don’t have the money to buy textbooks or anything else, maybe the money is there. Maybe it’s going the wrong direction,” Griffin said.

Dr. Griffin said he has no personal knowledge of financial irregularities happening at Tulsa Public Schools, nor is he making specific allegations of wrongdoing. However, he believes superintendent Gist's failure to provide to him financial and statistical information should raise red flags about how the district is handling finances.

“I’ve made requests to the superintendent for data and statistics. I’ve never been given any of that so I’ve got first-of-all some concern about my liability, personal liability and I think the board members should be concerned too," Griffin said.

His concerns prompted him to resign from the school's finance committee.

“I received an email today from a state representative, where one of his constituents has gone to him and alleged that illegal contracts are being submitted so it’s getting a lot of reaction on the state level with legislatures,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Gist declined to comment directly, but Board President Stacey Woolley said in a statement that every year an independent auditor does a comprehensive review and publishes the results on the district's website. The statement goes on to say “for more than a decade, the district has received unmodified opinions. For those of us who are not accountants, that signals a positive audit report."

“Stacey Woolley is the kindest most compassionate person I know, and I love her very much, but what she’s wrong on this issue and any auditor will tell you that there’s a total difference between your annual and forensic audit, ask WorldCom, ask Enron. They were audited for years, got a clean bill of house yet people are now in jail over that issue,” Dr. Griffin said

Dr. Griffin also asked the state auditor and governor to conduct a forensic audit. Dr. Griffin announced next Thursday he will hold a town hall meeting at Asbury United Methodist Church. He is welcoming his constituents and the public to attend.

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