Report points to possible misconduct in Yukon vocational agriculture program
Yukon Public Schools administrators released a report Friday that addresses allegations of livestock “skimming” and other misconduct within the district's FFA chapter and vocational agriculture program.
YUKON — An investigative report released Friday by Yukon Public Schools shows possible misconduct within the district's vocational agriculture program.
The report, dated Aug. 23, 2011, has been the focus of an open records lawsuit filed by the parents of a former Yukon student who was involved with the agriculture program at one time.
The document doesn't include names, but paints a picture of what was going on in one of the state's largest National FFA Organization chapters before April 2011.
Among other things, the report shows that district superintendent Bill Denton ordered the investigation into the district's agriculture program after receiving complaints from parents and other stakeholders.
The complaints ranged from “skimming” by agriculture instructors, who allegedly charged parents far more for livestock than they paid to breeders, to the existence of bank accounts which “commingled private and Program resources and expenditures.”
The report, prepared by Oklahoma City attorney and fraud examiner Mark Patzkowski, also shows that complaints against the agriculture program include allegations of favoritism among students by district staff and an affiliation with a booster club that reportedly has little financial oversight.
Patzkowski interviewed 22 individuals during his investigation, as well as examining law enforcement reports and roughly 600 pages of financial records “from concerned stakeholders and Program instructors.”
Denton said the school district initially refused to release the report by Patzkowski on the advice of its attorneys.
He said personnel matters and possible litigation played a role in the decision-making process.
The report shows that some students' parents appeared to have been “skimmed” more than others.
In 2010, the report details a financial transaction involving a student who was charged $7,000 for a steer that cost only $2,750.
Another student was overcharged but only $500, while some students paid less than the animals cost from breeders, according to Patzkowski's report.
The report does not explicitly say that the instructors were “skimming,” as has been alleged by some parents, partly because certain breeders refused to supply detailed financial records to Patzkowski during his inquiry.
“There is no direct evidence that the Program instructor received any benefit from these transactions because the checks were made directly to the breeder,” Patzkowski wrote in the report.
“The Program instructor advised he was attempting to cover the losses of dead animals and the Program students did not know the true cost basis of the animals.”
The investigation's report also reveals that former and current agriculture instructors used bank accounts that mixed their own money with funds meant for the school program.
The report shows that instructors failed to produce acceptable documentation for “many cash withdrawals” over a period of time. There also is a note in the report stating that one instructor deposited funds “clearly” marked as donations into their personal bank account.
See our commenting and posting policy.