BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A newly-released state audit has troubling findings related to LSU’s University Laboratory School (ULS) including questionable purchases and travel.
Details were outlined in a report issued by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor Monday.
The audit also found that one of the school’s principals allowed his wife’s company to use school resources and allegedly accepted five free trips to an all-inclusive resort.
The prestigious K-12 school is located on the edge of the LSU campus.
Auditors say of 63% of ULS purchases they randomly reviewed were for items or services “that would not typically be allowed by University policy such as employee gifts including Apple watches and gift cards, Director’s Award scholarships and non-employee/spouse travel.”
Auditors say two school administrators, secondary principal Frank Rusciano and elementary principal Myra Broussard, established their own business, called Cub Care, so that they could be compensated for aftercare programs at the schools for the 2017-2018 school year.
The amount the principals should be paid for after-school activities had been a matter of contention for several years, auditors said.
The actions by the Rusciano and Broussard “appear to represent an attempt to circumvent University management’s disapproval and University policy.”
The two principals set up a system so that parents could have their credit cards drafted for the after-school program and then did not deposit those funds into a University account to “ensure that they (the principals) would get paid,” auditors claim.
Auditors also found that Rusciano received complimentary travel and accomodations at an all-inclusive resort for himself and one guest on five different occasions in exchage for him using a particular travel agency. That travel agency was used by ULS for booking groups of more than 75 people for the school’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., the audit says.
Auditors also say Rusciano allowed school resources including staff, computers, facilities and supplies to be used by his wife’s company, Louisiana High School Correspondence Course (LHSCC). LSU says ULS will no longer allowed to use LHSCC in the future but currently-enrolled students are being allowed to complete their coursework.
Auditors said both the free travel and the LHSCC issue created the appearance of, if not an actual, conflict of interest.”
Interim Dean Dr. Roland Mitchell provided LSU’s management response to the audit findings.
Mitchell said ULS has taken “personnel actions” with respect to the two principals. “These outcomes are in process and will be completed no later than June 30, 2019,” Mitchell wrote in his response.
Mitchell says the school’s aftercare program is also being reviewed to “ensure accurate administration and financial reporting” going forward.
Also, Mitchell said, the LSU Office of Accounting is working with ULS to make sure all future money generated by ULS is deposited into the proper university accounts.
“LSU employees are held to the highest standards, and we are diligently working through the issues presented in the audit and taking appropriate action to ensure that this does not happen again,” LSU said in a statement to WAFB-TV Monday.