Wilkinsburg School District finds $65,000 in sick days errors

A Wilkinsburg school audit finds 215 sick days by the staff went unrecorded, and the counting isn't done

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A human resources audit being conducted in the Wilkinsburg School District has found that staff members there have taken more than 215 sick days that were not recorded in the district records, a total that amounts to about $65,000 in pay.

The audit first was discussed publicly two weeks ago at the school board's finance committee meeting when Ramona Pope, a consultant who has handled some business and human resource duties for the district this year, told the committee she was conducting an audit of sick time. She said she found there were 140 undocumented sick days that amounted to a potential cost of $45,000.

At a board meeting last week, finance committee chairwoman Debra Raubenstrauch said the audit was ongoing and had reached a total of about $53,000 in errors on sick days. The audit spans the 2013-14 school year.

After a board meeting Wednesday, Ms. Pope said the number of undocumented days had reached 215, and auditors are only up to the month of February in their investigation. The audit is still in progress, she said, but should be completed by the June board meeting.

"She is recouping real money from people who have been overpaid," Ms. Raubenstrauch said.

The district is not receiving repayment for all of the undocumented sick days. In some cases, employees had sick time allotted, but it was not deducted from their total when they took off. In those cases, it could have cost the district money in the future if employees took off days that they weren't entitled to.

In other cases, employees are having payments deducted from their paychecks because they took unpaid leave when they didn't have enough allotted days to cover the leave.

The next step of the audit, Ms. Pope said, is finding the value cost of the days taken, including how much the extra sick days cost the district in payments to substitute teachers.

Ms. Pope said the district is looking to conduct weekly evaluations of employee sick days for next school year, tracking days "as they are taken, as opposed to not looking at all."

Sick days are usually overseen by the director of human resources, she said. Andrea Williams, the district's HR director, has been off on paid leave for various stretches of time since January, and full time since March 28. Ms. Pope has been assigned to human resource duties in her absence.

"Whatever the system we have, it is not being consistently enforced," Ms. Raubenstrauch said. "We want to make sure we have the right measures in place."

Ms. Raubenstrauch said the audit was prompted when some board members noticed that there seemed to be a high number of paid employee leaves on the board agenda's each month and by questions asked by a resident in January about a $29,260 payment to former superintendent Archie Perrin that included reimbursement for more than 400 sick days at the time of his retirement last year.

Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590. Clarece Polke: cpolke@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1889 or on Twitter @clarepolke.

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