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State auditor honors Huron

Alissa Widman Neese • Apr 30, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Huron Schools received an Auditor of the State Award this past week for a clean financial audit.

The award indicates the district met financial and legal requirements on the federal, state and local level from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 — a timeframe overlapping with its investigation and controversial firing of former superintendent Fred Fox.

To qualify for the award, a district must meet several criteria, according to the state auditor’s website:

•Filing timely financial reports with the state auditor’s office.

•Submitting an audit report that does not contain any findings for recovery, material citations, material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, single audit findings or questioned costs.

•Ensuring its management letter contains no comments related to ethics referrals, questioned costs less than $10,000, lack of timely report submission, reconciliation, failure to obtain a timely single audit, findings for recovery less than $100 or public meetings or public records.

In addition to these routine requirements, an independent auditor also examined the following questioned practices at Huron Schools:

•A payment of $90,000 total to McGown and Markling law firm for investigating Fox before his firing.

•Any potential violations of Ohio public records laws, specifically related to the investigation.

The auditor did not report any issues with either situation, according to documents posted this past week on the state auditor’s website.

Fox contends Huron Schools wrongfully fired him and has a pending lawsuit against the district, as well as the three board members who voted to end his employment in April 2013 because of his alleged misconduct. Fox’s lawsuit is referenced briefly in the audit, which states the district’s management believes it “will not have a material effect, if any, on the financial condition of the district”

“While the defense and certain damages are covered by insurance, there are areas where there is no insurance coverage,” it states. “It is too early in process to determine the merits of said lawsuits and if the former superintendent will prevail”

Fox’s investigation, firing and court proceedings have cost Huron Schools about $140,000, including the bill to McGown and Markling law firm. The district’s annual operating budget is about $14.6 million.

A copy of the Huron Schools financial audit is available below

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