While our local public and punditry care little if at all about governance by the GASD board, I still feel compelled to point this out as a perfect illustration of how our local institutions escape any accountability. And no one gets more of an accountability-free ride than our school board, year-after-year, day-after-day.
What prompts this post is the convergence of the following:
1) This story on how porn was discovered on a computer in the business office along with the resulting response from the administration
2) The audit report from NY State:
[scribd id=50869618 key=key-vlxc89np9f2sj73oqkk mode=list]
3) The agenda for tonight’s meeting
4) The responsibilities of our school board to the public
Let’s start with the responsibilities of the audit committee per NY State:
The audit committee should hold regularly scheduled meetings and report to the board on the activities of the audit committee on an as needed basis, but not less than annually. The report should address or include:
(1) the activities of the audit committee;
(2) summary of the minutes of the meetings;
(3) significant findings brought to the attention of the audit committee;
(4) any indications of suspected fraud, waste, or abuse;
(5) significant internal control findings; and
(6) activities of the internal audit function.
In light of the recent incident, I’m curious pursuant to (3) and (5) why the GASD agenda for tonight’s meeting makes no mention of the audit committee. If I were a board member, I would find it curious to not have a significant audit finding as part of the agenda.
As a board member, I would also find it more than curious that the public statements and district submitted findings to the state on the nature of the incident by the administration and their staff to be readily rejected by the state auditors. From the Recorder story, we get this:
“Our [information technology] person didn’t find any misuse on the computer,” said Superintendent Thomas Perillo. “A virus got into that computer when we switched from Road Runner [Internet service] to a fiber optic cable. Something must have gotten into our computer from all the state websites we have to visit.” According to the state Office of the Comptroller, however, an analysis of the three viruses on the computer assigned to Business Manager Roger Seward “does not support the district’s assertion. The viruses do not launch pornographic and other websites.” State officials say they were unable to validate their analyses, however, because the hard drive was inoperable a week later when they tried to review it again.
If you drill down into the state audit report , you find that the district’s claims on the origins and excuses for the porn surfing were wholly rejected. Does this matter to the audit committee or the school board? Apparently not.
What’s even more galling is this statement:
He also said business office employees are now subject to the district’s computer usage agreement. The state report said during the audit, district officials could not provide the office with user agreements for the four staff members involved in online banking, and said the individuals had been with the district long before the policy took effect.
Apparently the school board and audit committee buy in to the argument that the individual in question was not subject to the computer usage agreement and hence, not subject to policies or consequences to deal with surfing porn. Really!?
Let me clarify my point here: I am not holding the board accountable for the actions of one person. Instead I am holding them accountable to the actions and statements of the administration in how they have, let’s put it kindly, mischaracterized the incident to avoid scrutiny or accountability. If the audit committee and larger board do not hold the administration accountable, then they are not performing their duty and are merely accomplices in sweeping this issue aside. It should go without saying that ‘mum’ is apparently the board’s word on this whole issue.
Again, this is another finding from the state audit disputing the district’s claims:
This information further supports our conclusion that the website history was user-generated and not the result of the malicious software found on the computer. Rather, the viruses are a result of unregulated Internet traffic.
None of this surprises me in any way– the apathy of the public, the lack of governance of the board or the self-preservation of the administration — in yet another in a line of incidents on the financial management of the district.
I really look forward to the school budget and school board races so I can listen to the propaganda “looking out for the public”, “making tough choices” and the attendant banality of it all.
And of course, “the children”.
Have a very happy day.
Technology PS: Any technologist reading the above claims would quickly exclaim: “Pants on Fire!”.