DE SOTO — The superintendent of the De Soto School District received a $500 monthly car allowance that was not reported as compensation on tax forms, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has found.
In an audit of the district’s finances, Galloway also discovered problems with payments to vendors and discrepancies in attendance data. The state has overpaid $30,000 to the district because of errors in attendance records for home-bound students, according to the audit.
Galloway presented the findings at a public meeting Wednesday at De Soto High School.
In response to the audit, district officials renegotiated Superintendent Josh Isaacson’s contract to include the car allowance in total compensation and have plans for other improvements, Galloway said.
The district of about 2,900 students includes parts of Jefferson, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.
Galloway announced the audit in April 2018 in response to a petition signed by 792 registered voters. The petition drive was led by community members upset over the 2017 resignation of Vineland Elementary principal Adam Grindstaff.
At the time, Isaacson said the district had investigated Grindstaff’s use of district funds. In a letter to parents, Isaacson said Grindstaff declined a public hearing on the investigation. Grindstaff sued the district for breach of contract, claiming that district officials threatened him with termination if he did not resign. The suit is pending.
Isaacson estimated that the audit cost the district between $50,000 and $75,000.
Galloway also found irregularities in payments to a food service vendor at one school. The situation was reported to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Galloway said.
The De Soto audit was the latest of several state investigations of area school districts. Galloway gave the district an overall score of “fair” on the audit system’s four-point scale of excellent, good, fair or poor.
Last year, the Hazelwood School District was also given a “fair” rating in an audit that found $95,000 in over-payments because of inaccurate student attendance records, among other problems.
The Fox School District in Arnold received a “poor” rating in a 2016 audit that showed the district spent $100,000 on gift cards, electronics and groceries, mainly for the personal benefit of former Superintendent Dianne Critchlow. Galloway has since filed a progress report noting improvements in that district’s finances.