News

Errors in federal reimbursement, employee ratios to cost Ravenswood $24K

Majority of fees circle back to excessive number of administrative employees to teachers

The Ravenswood City School District will pay just over $24,000 for financial errors uncovered in an annual audit for double-counting students for a federal meal program and exceeding the allowable ratio of administrators to teachers.

Sheldon Chavan of Chavan & Associates in San Jose presented his firm's audit findings to the school board on Feb. 13. The board unanimously accepted the report with no discussion.

Chavan said turnover in district leadership over the last year — including the departures of the superintendent and chief business official, who left amid warnings of fiscal insolvency and budget cuts — delayed the audit and impacted the findings. The audit also cites personnel cuts and time-strapped staff as contributing factors. The district's controller position was unfilled for most of last year.

"Overall, considering the turnover that you had, I would say that's a pretty good audit — not great because you had a couple findings but a pretty good audit," Chavan told the board.

The audit found that the district had counted "newcomer" students in the federal child nutrition breakfast program more than once, mistakenly claiming 3,196 duplicated student breakfasts and 72 duplicated student lunches for reimbursement during the year.

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The district must return $5,807 in federal reimbursements and has taken action in its point of sale software to reject duplicate claims, according to a staff report. The auditors also recommended that the district "remind all staff and ensure internal control policies and procedures are being followed to ensure only one meal for breakfast per child is counted on roster lists and verifying the meals received back in the kitchen match the number of students listed for breakfast per classroom. Students lunch meals should only be counted at a site if a student is on-site and takes a meal."

Ravenswood will also be penalized $18,409 for exceeding the state's ratio of administrative employees to teachers.

To avoid future penalties in this area, the district plans to complete an employee ratio worksheet at the beginning of each fiscal year and regularly update it throughout the year, according to the audit.

The firm also reviewed the district's response to two findings from the previous year's audit, including incomplete personnel documentation and errors in the human resources and payroll departments. In response, the district reassigned employees to improve compliance and continues to train staff, according to the audit.

"Internal controls are essential to the effective operation of local governments and school districts," the report states. "Without adequate internal controls, management has little assurance that its goals and objectives will be achieved."

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Ravenswood's audit report has been filed, as is mandated, with the San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools, the state Department of Education and the state Controller's Office.

The Ravenswood City School District did not return requests for comment.

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Errors in federal reimbursement, employee ratios to cost Ravenswood $24K

Majority of fees circle back to excessive number of administrative employees to teachers

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Feb 24, 2020, 1:48 pm

The Ravenswood City School District will pay just over $24,000 for financial errors uncovered in an annual audit for double-counting students for a federal meal program and exceeding the allowable ratio of administrators to teachers.

Sheldon Chavan of Chavan & Associates in San Jose presented his firm's audit findings to the school board on Feb. 13. The board unanimously accepted the report with no discussion.

Chavan said turnover in district leadership over the last year — including the departures of the superintendent and chief business official, who left amid warnings of fiscal insolvency and budget cuts — delayed the audit and impacted the findings. The audit also cites personnel cuts and time-strapped staff as contributing factors. The district's controller position was unfilled for most of last year.

"Overall, considering the turnover that you had, I would say that's a pretty good audit — not great because you had a couple findings but a pretty good audit," Chavan told the board.

The audit found that the district had counted "newcomer" students in the federal child nutrition breakfast program more than once, mistakenly claiming 3,196 duplicated student breakfasts and 72 duplicated student lunches for reimbursement during the year.

The district must return $5,807 in federal reimbursements and has taken action in its point of sale software to reject duplicate claims, according to a staff report. The auditors also recommended that the district "remind all staff and ensure internal control policies and procedures are being followed to ensure only one meal for breakfast per child is counted on roster lists and verifying the meals received back in the kitchen match the number of students listed for breakfast per classroom. Students lunch meals should only be counted at a site if a student is on-site and takes a meal."

Ravenswood will also be penalized $18,409 for exceeding the state's ratio of administrative employees to teachers.

To avoid future penalties in this area, the district plans to complete an employee ratio worksheet at the beginning of each fiscal year and regularly update it throughout the year, according to the audit.

The firm also reviewed the district's response to two findings from the previous year's audit, including incomplete personnel documentation and errors in the human resources and payroll departments. In response, the district reassigned employees to improve compliance and continues to train staff, according to the audit.

"Internal controls are essential to the effective operation of local governments and school districts," the report states. "Without adequate internal controls, management has little assurance that its goals and objectives will be achieved."

Ravenswood's audit report has been filed, as is mandated, with the San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools, the state Department of Education and the state Controller's Office.

The Ravenswood City School District did not return requests for comment.

Comments

Sudarios Needs to Go
Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:48 am
Sudarios Needs to Go, Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:48 am
16 people like this

I Hope the teachers and board realizes that M’s. Sudaria is not the right person for this important job. She has only been the interim superintendent and she has been making so many mistakes that are costing the district money which could have been use on the students. She paid 30 thousand dollars to Search for a CBO with no results, but the teachers do not seem to mind about that, only about the members of the board for spending spending less than 25 thousand dollars on a real and experienced superintendent. If pulido voted noto Sudaria being hired as a interim super is probably because they knew her performance both as a student services and hr director.


Are You Kiding?
East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 9:51 am
Are You Kiding? , East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 9:51 am
12 people like this

To the last person who posted: Are you sure that 3,000 dollars were expend for nothing? If this is true, what a waste of funds. I am afraid that this district will never improve. I feel sorry for those students who have not made it out of this district. Lucky those who have had the privilege to attend other districts or to go to private schools. I really thought that with Ms. Sudaria things will improve in this district for our kids, but I was wrong. Yes, I too hope that the board members open their eyes and see the reality that Gina will not be the ideal superintendent. I know for sure that the teachers will turn their eyes somewhere else and will not speak up because Gina has bought their silence with the generous raise. She does need to go and work somewhere else where she cannot waste our students' funds.


Are You Kiding
East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 12:54 pm
Are You Kiding, East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 12:54 pm
Like this comment

Sorry, I meant to say 30,000 dollars not 3,000.


Great Work Ms. Sudaria!
East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 7:31 pm
Great Work Ms. Sudaria!, East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 7:31 pm
13 people like this

Great work Ms. Sudaria for working with your team to continue to uncover these issues that happened under the prior superintendent and CBO.

We have great faith in you because we have worked beside you for 20 years. We know your character, we know your work ethic and we believe in you to lead us through this hard work (and clean up)!


palo alto resident
East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:14 pm
palo alto resident, East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:14 pm
14 people like this

just like i thought it would end up Gina Sudaria is finishing what Gloria Hernandez started. they both do not care about the students . all she cares about is putting all her followers in good positions and giving them raises.
people when are you going to open up your eyes and this goes for all the board members specially President Pulido all you board members keep voting yes without looking into what its for. please board members instead of voting yes for nonsense projects look into retaining kids and bringing new kids to attend Ravenswood school District. I'm hoping the new Superintendent get hired soon and get rid of the corruption.and all you teachers stop covering for Gina.
there is a lot of violations that all of you are covering up and all you teachers know for a fact that is not right but you keep covering for Gina,
what about the safety and well being of all the students? just think about it.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 26, 2020 at 9:36 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 26, 2020 at 9:36 am
Like this comment

Another issue has popped up - the Lottery system was put in place to subsidize the school systems. Now an audit of that money driven event shows that the money is not being allocated to the school systems as originally set-up. Lots of trips, hotels, etc. Nice to work for that organization.

There is a bottom line here - any time you set up a system that is money driven then you have to exercise a continual audit to make sure it is working as sold to the public. People think they are not visible to the public.
That goes for bond funds - not being allocated to school systems as promised in the period of voting and authorization. We can all point fingers but let's start at the top - the STATE. What is the STATE doing. We pay them to manage the systems across the board. Who is monitoring the STATE? If people see the state not working them that trickles down to the local school districts.


Raul
East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 10:07 am
Raul, East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 10:07 am
Like this comment

This is not rocket science. It’s at best, incompetence; at worst, theft and fraudulent activity. No one competent wants to take the chance on blowing up their career by working @Ravenswood!


Sudaria's Audit Error not Hernandez'
East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 10:29 am
Sudaria's Audit Error not Hernandez', East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 10:29 am
11 people like this

To: Great Work Ms. Sudaria!
You said: Great work Ms. Sudaria for working with your team to continue to uncover these issues that happened under the prior superintendent and CBO.
You shall know that the auditor is the one who uncovered the poor job Ms. Sudaria is doing as an interim superintendent. In January 2018 right before Hernandez left, the same company did an audit. The audit this article talks about is from the time Hernandez left to now. I see that you w I hope she does not messed up our district more before during her last 3 months as an interim. Yes. She is very popular among the teachers and some other staff for giving them a big raise and 2,000 dollars for returning to work this school year. She did this when she knew how bad the district was doing financially. By doing that she bought them. She is smart in that way, but not as a super who cares about the students education and how to use the district funds wisely. Remember Ms. Sudaria was a student of Hernandez so she trained her well to be a corrupt super just like her. Board members: let her go before she misuses or throw away district funds that could be use directly on students to improve their education. I really hate how the staff covers for each other. I heard that the principal at RMS is doing a really poor job. Someone posted here on Palo Alto on Line in another article about Ravenswood, but Gina pretends that everything is great because they cover for each other just like another poster said . I doubt that this district will survive with leaders like Gina. If she stays, probably the district will be gone in about five years. There are more chances of surviving if they get someone else who was a student of Ms. Hernandez.


frustrated mom
East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:17 pm
frustrated mom, East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:17 pm
12 people like this

I agree with the former poster that things will not change with Gina as a superintendent. It was a good thing that Hernandez was forced to resign, but it was wrong to allow Gina to stay. The new board members who claimed to care about student's education should have cleaned house, but instead, they gave the interim superintendent job to Gina who was also a corrupted administrator when Hernandez was the superintendent and by doing this they set the district two steps backward instead of moving it forward. What a shame, they had the opportunity to make a difference and they waste it. They might have just left Hernandez; that way we parents wouldn't have gotten false hopes. I know for a fact that they already had a deal with the teachers to give them support during the elections in exchange for keeping Gina as the superintendent. Hopefully, they open their eyes and realize that she is not the correct person to improve our kid's education. At this point I am very frustrated, I do not know who is more corrupted the former board members or Fitch and Sobomehin.


Let State Take Over
Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:33 pm
Let State Take Over, Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:33 pm
12 people like this

Our kids deserve the best, but they will not get it as long as we have Ms. Sudaria as an interim or as a super. She does not have the qualifications nor the experience to lead our district forward. The state shall take over; I am sure our students would be in better hands and we would not have to put up with the bunch of inept board members who just aprove everything Ms. Sudaria ask them to prove. I am also sure they did not even read the audit report otherwise they would have said something. One more thing, why did they allow Ms. Sudaria to spend $30,000 to search for a CBO and at the end she got nothing in return?. What a bunch of idiots and what a way to waste our student's funds.


Transparency Please.
East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:42 pm
Transparency Please. , East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:42 pm
11 people like this

To all parents of community members who do not agree with the job Ms. Sudaria is doing: There is a monkey survey at the down below link. Make sure you fill out the survey and give them your feed back. Even if they do not do anything about it, at least they will know that you are not happy with the job performance of the interim superintendent.If you do not give them feed back. They will give the job of superintendent to Ms. Sudaria. Do not let this happened if you are not happy with her work.
click here: Web Link.


My Two Cents
East Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2020 at 8:49 am
My Two Cents, East Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2020 at 8:49 am
8 people like this

Yes, It is very upsetting to hear that the interim superintendent is not doing her job the way she is supposed to, and now they have to pay 20,000 dollars plus in fines. Even worst to know that she has pay 30,000 to a firm or company for the search of a CBO and there is still no CBO. My two cents: Board members shall get rid of Gina now and get a different interim super such as Mr. Landes while continuing to search for a better administrator who can get this district out of this mess. Inept interims and superintendents are the reason parents continue to take their children out of this Ravenswood School District to charters, privates or on the Tinsley Transfer. Even teachers who support Ms. Sudaria have their kids on the Tinsley Transfer to other cities. If these teachers and other people who claim that Gina is doing such a great job, how come their children attend other school districts. Show that what you said is true, by enrolling your students at Ravenswood.


RMS Teacher
another community
on Feb 27, 2020 at 9:05 am
RMS Teacher, another community
on Feb 27, 2020 at 9:05 am
7 people like this

Our interim superintendent is not doing a good job at evaluating our school principals. Presently RMS is completely a mess. For the majority of this school year students have been pulling the fire alarms on daily basis (multiple times a day), and that disrupts our students' learning. Also the school has been so and even worst, students bathrooms are not working due to students' breaking them and are now locked. Board Members please get rid of RMS Principal so the RMS vision that you have can come true. Presently it has been nothng but a fiasco. She does not know how to discipline children who continue to test her. Some of my colleges are leaving because it is frustrated to work under such environment. Why did you have to get rid of former principal who was doing a better job than her?


Concerned Parent
Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Concerned Parent, Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2020 at 4:29 pm
4 people like this

Thanks so much, RMS Teacher for letting us know how things really are at RMS, and it is really not the beautiful teacher they tried to paint at the last board meeting. Shame on the Supe and Ms. Kemp for not being able to discipline the students and for not providing a learning environment. How can our children learn like that when the alarm is pulled by mischievous students who are trying to see how far they can go with Ms. Kemp. I remember a parent who complained at board meetings and she was very vocal about how Ms. Kemp could not provide safety for the students at Ronald Mcnair and her child was beaten. Who in the world thought that Ms. Kemp could be able to run a school with so many students when she could not manage McNaire that had a lot of fewer students? if Ms. Kemp and Ms. Sudaria stay our students' safety will be at risk.


Do not Fail our Students this Time
East Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Do not Fail our Students this Time, East Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm
4 people like this

I agree, too many teachers continue to leave Ravenswood when the interim superintendent and some union members claim that with Ms. Sudaria things are great in this district, but it this was true not that many teachers would be leaving. I have been watching board meetings, and see that the same people coming over and over to support Gina (no more than 20), and some of them are the RTA and Classified Union Reps, Mr. Hill the tech person (who get special priviledges such as getting late to work or not working at all when they are at work), and other certificated and classified employees who recently got either a promotion or a big salary raise such as the Coordinators whose salaries in same cases went up by 30,000 dollars a year and in same cases more than that. If I had that much of a raise of course I would come to Kiss the interims A... too. The super shall enter a popularity contest and I am sure she would win, but that does not qualifies her as a superintendent. Actually it makes me believe that she is so friendly that she will not be able to hold employees accountable, at least not now because she will need them to come and beg board members to hire her as a superintendent, but I do too believe that it will be the wrong thing to do. I hope that this time ALL the board members can see the poor job the interim is doing and do not do the same mistake that the past board member did when they extending Hernandez 'contract. Puled had a chance to show the community that she cared about our district by not renewing former superintendent's contract and get a new one, but she waist it that opportunity. Hopefully this time she will know better. She is having a second change to do things right. It is very sad to see that they new board members and the interim still are having the same behaviors that the former members and as Ms. Hernandez had (to turn a deaf and blind eye and pretend that things were great when they are not). Pulido, please do not fail our students and teachers this time. Please get anybody else than the interim, our kids deserve the best.


east palo alto resident
East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2020 at 8:59 pm
east palo alto resident, East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2020 at 8:59 pm
4 people like this

the interim superintendent should be focusing on retaining and bringing more kids into the district and not focus on admin by giving them raises.
she should be focusing on the safety of the kids and teachers who are at risk
and maybe the teachers should not be covering up for Gina they should open up their eyes because they are at risk as well from what i hear most of the staff,teachers and maintenance, don't have keys to access most school and a total chaos and where is the locksmith sitting on his butt?
no one is speaking up or reporting this to RTA and CSEA
why? because the two presidents are on her side.
the people in charge of the projects are just a mess they don't have a clue on the construction aspect i do not who is charge of the maintenance people
but whoever is in charge of the Maintenance Dept. does not know anything or has a clue about construction.
if the maintenance people are installing steel doors at all the schools they should be fired immediately on the spot because those do not open or close correctly the doors am talking about are at the Los Robles/Mc Nair School
that is where my son goes to. the doors are grinded down you do not grind doors specially steel doors. i am in construction by trade and the work being done at my kids school is garbage and not safe for anyone and i hope the county can do something in regards to this.


Concerned Parent
East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2020 at 2:13 pm
Concerned Parent, East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2020 at 2:13 pm
3 people like this

Frustrated Mom,
I just remembered that in the last couple of months an RMS Staff posted this:
Amanda Kemp is just another white lady that thinks she knows what's best for everyone. I hope the district outs her next year and replaces her with someone who understands the kids.

I hope that someone like board members or Ms. Sudaria saw this add and actually did something about it. And I also hope they did not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear as the former superintendent and board members used to do. They ignored the elephant in the room. If they keep Ms. Kemp the former board members' RMS vision will not come true.


John Denos
East Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2020 at 10:14 am
John Denos, East Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2020 at 10:14 am
Like this comment

WHy do you think they got rid of me..? I had access to everything and I didn't care who's boss was who.

I had access to PAYROLL/ HR/ CALPERS and all the data was lacking.

I was telling everyone that the data systems required PEOPLE to input the data.

Instead... everyone wanted to cover their own butt by remaining in the stone ages with their paper work.

Dr. Hernandez hired me to show everyone how messed up the systems were and most of the departments just stuck their head in the sand and hid behind their boss. Nobody had the balls to actually do their job.

When Sudaria came on-board as SUP I was told not to do anything unless I was directed to. Well, I was ignored... once Sudaria was Sup I no longer existed.


Concerned Mom.
East Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:43 pm
Concerned Mom., East Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:43 pm
Like this comment

John
What kind of job do you think Sudaria was doing, poor Jair or great. Do you thing this error was a done under your mom's superintendency or Gina's. Ms. Sudaria claims that it was Ms. Hernandez's fault. I am wondering if she is saying the true.


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