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Audit  Audit of the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School

Audit calls for improvements at school related to financial management, employee compensation and board of trustee governance. It examined the period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017.

Organization: Office of the State Auditor
Date published: November 19, 2018

Executive Summary

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School (DLA) for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017. In addition, we reviewed DLA’s personnel policy and the former executive director’s employment contracts for fiscal years 2003 through 2014 to determine the amount of sick time accrued during her employment. This audit was initiated at the request of the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and was intended to assess whether the school’s board exercised proper oversight of school activities.

Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1

DLA’s board of trustees made an unallowable payment of $117,743 for unused sick time to the school’s former executive director.


The board should not approve any employment-related payments to a person unless the payments are specifically authorized under the person’s employment contract.

Finding 2

The former executive director’s employment contract did not establish effective performance measures and may have provided her with excessive compensation.


  1. DLA’s board should develop and document a formal process for evaluating its executive director’s compensation that includes an analysis of comparable positions at charter schools of similar size.
  2. DLA’s board should tie increases in its executive director’s compensation to performance metrics that include measurable outcomes, including student academic performance.

Finding 3

DLA paid for inadequately documented and/or unallowable credit card transactions totaling $126,333.


  1. DLA should establish monitoring controls to ensure adherence to its policies and procedures related to the use of its credit cards and reconciliation of credit card statements.
  2. DLA should follow DESE guidelines regarding the nonpayment of state sales tax and establish monitoring controls to ensure adherence to those guidelines.

Finding 4

DLA inappropriately used $23,294 in school funds to directly benefit employees, including its former executive director.


  1. The board should ensure that it is aware of school policies.
  2. DLA management should cease providing salary advances to its staff and should take the measures necessary to ensure that it does not use school/public funds in any manner that is contrary to school policy.

Finding 5

DLA did not monitor or reconcile its PayPal account.


  1. DLA should immediately gain access to its PayPal account, review the transactions conducted in the account during our audit period, and reconcile the information in the account to DLA’s financial records.
  2. DLA should establish policies and procedures regarding the administration of its PayPal account, as well as monitoring controls to ensure that these policies and procedures are adhered to.

Finding 6

Vendor invoices totaling thousands of dollars were processed without required supporting documentation.


DLA management should develop monitoring controls to ensure that all vendor payments are processed in accordance with established policies and procedures.

Finding 7

Several DLA board members did not comply with reporting and training requirements.


The DLA board’s governance committee should develop a formal process of routinely assessing each board member’s compliance with all training and filing requirements and ensuring that all board members comply with these requirements.

Finding 8

DLA’s board of trustees did not create sufficiently detailed records of all of its meetings.


DLA should recruit and retain a board secretary to ensure that sufficiently detailed meeting minutes are created.

Finding 9

DLA’s board chair exceeded his term limit.


The board should not allow any of its members to serve a term that exceeds those established in its bylaws.

A PDF copy of the audit of the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School is available here.





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