State Audit Finds “Chronic Mismanagement” At FCPS

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton and its Budget Director, Julane Mullins, asked for a state audit into the district’s budget deficit.  Mullins claimed fraud and mismanagement were the causes of a $20-million deficit.  Auditor Adam Edelen found no evidence of criminal activity, but he found poor financial management, weak policies, and failed communications, which contributed to the district’s deficit. 

Fayette County Public Schools’ motto is "It’s about kids."  State Auditor Adam Edelen found that wasn’t always the case.  He concluded sometimes it was about turf battles.

At the root of the problem, Edelen found a broken relationship between Mullins and the District’s Finance Director, Rodney Jackson.  Edelen did not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. 

"However, we did find chronic mismanagement of the district’s budget and finances that have contributed to its financial instability," said Auditor Adam Edelen.

Shelton sat and listened to Edelen’s news conference, yet a few hours later he disputed that very statement.

"My understanding from working with the auditors and speaking with Mr. Edelen himself was that this simply complicated the matter.  It did not cause, it was not causational, it was correlational," said FCPS Superintendent Tom Shelton.

He announced an immediate course of action.  Step two of three was conflict resolution training.

"I don’t think marriage counseling is what we need here.  We need a structural change," said Edelen.

Edelen said the school board was passing budgets based on false numbers. 

Auditors found no miss money, but auditors questioned whether money was purposely hidden.

Shelton said he no plans to be more transparent, but he said nothing in the report surprised him.

"If I could have done anything differently, I would have acted more quickly," said Shelton.

Edelen said the right Superintendent can lead the necessary change.  School Board Member Doug Barnett questioned if Shelton is that man.
"He is going to have to regain the trust of his board and his going to have to regain trust with me, and right now there is very little of that between me and him," said Barnett.

Shelton has not determined if Mullins and Jackson would keep their jobs.  Shelton just started the final year of his contract.  He is due for a performance evaluation in the near future.

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