The state comptroller’s office reviewed 2,969 checks the North Merrick School District wrote and 123 wire transfers it made between 2011 and 2013 and found wrong names on all of them.
New York law requires that school boards appoint a treasurer who handles all disbursements of district funds. But a recent audit by the office of New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found North Merrick was not complying with the law. According to the comptroller’s audit report, which was released in March, North Merrick’s treasurer, Terry McCurry, did not sign the district’s checks nor approve and perform the district’s electronic money transfers. Instead, Joanne Long, North Merrick’s district clerk, signed all of the checks, Dr. Stephen Draper, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, approved all of the wires, and a “senior account clerk” performed all the wires from July 2011 to May 2013. The report referred to each of these employees by their titles and did not state their names.
“By usurping the Treasurer’s disbursement functions, the [North Merrick Board of Education] has diminished an important segregation of functions designed to help ensure that District funds are properly expanded,” the report stated.
Though the wrong officials held North Merrick’s purse strings, the comptroller’s audit did not find that any district funds were misspent.
North Merrick officials told DiNapoli’s office and the Herald Life that they would move quickly to implement fixes the comptroller recommended.
“Over a number of the last few years, we’ve had audits by our external auditor, internal auditor and claims auditor, and this was not found to be a problem,” Draper told the Herald Life. “But we are complying with the state’s direction on this and we are in the midst of changing things right now. We’re certainly going to comply with their recommendations.”