BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two days before its self-imposed deadline to make a decision about the future of LSU’s University Lab principal, Frank Rusciano, university leaders said Friday, June 28 they need more information before reaching a conclusion.
Rusciano was placed on paid leave Jan. 3 amid a state audit of the school. He remains on paid leave.
“LSU has referred this matter to the Louisiana Board of Ethics for review and is awaiting a decision from them,” said LSU spokesman, Ernie Ballard. “Frank Rusciano is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of those proceedings."
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, in a rare move for a governor, personally contacted LSU leaders asking that a fair investigation be conducted.
Findings from the state audit of the prestigious K-12 school, on the edge of the LSU campus, were released in March.
Another University Lab School (ULS) principal, Myra Broussard, was moved to different position because of the audit findings.
“Myra Broussard is serving as special assistant to the interim superintendent from now through August,” Ballard said Friday. “She also has a faculty appointment (un-tenured instructor), which she will continue after August.”
Auditors say 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 the two school administrators, Rusciano and Broussard, established their own business, called Cub Care, so they could be compensated for aftercare programs at the schools for the 2017-18 school year. The amount the principals should be paid for after-school activities had been a matter of contention for several years, auditors say.
The actions by the Rusciano and Broussard “appear to represent an attempt to circumvent University management’s disapproval and University policy,” auditors said.
The two principals set up a system so 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 accommodations at an all-inclusive resort for himself and one guest on five different occasions in exchange 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 be allowed to use LHSCC in the future, but currently enrolled students are being allowed to complete their coursework.
Auditors say both the free travel and the LHSCC issue “created the appearance of, if not an actual, conflict of interest.”