Local News

Wake Bus Parts Inventory Found Lacking by State

Posted May 14, 2007
Updated May 15, 2007

— One year after the Wake County school system closed the book on a multimillion-dollar fraud case within its Transportation Department, a state inspection shows discrepancies continue nwith its bus-parts inventory.

Six out of 10 bus parts that were checked on the shelves didn't match what the department's said should be there, authorities said.

Associate Superintendent Don Haydon said there is a delay between when a part is listed on paper and when it eventually gets entered into the computer. More people are working to speed that process, he said.

In some cases, however, the state inspection showed the district had more on the shelves than what managers had recorded.

"It has to be fixed," Haydon said. "We'd like to be able to improve the system. When you go to a Ford dealer, you don' t go through a process like that."

The poor inspection rating wouldn't stick out had it not been for four former employees who pleaded guilty to siphoning off more than $4 million dollars from the department, including Vern Hatley, who was the director at the time.

Lack of oversight in inventory allowed them to hide the fraud with fake orders for bus parts.

Haydon said more oversight on how and where money is spent already has reduced the potential for fraud.

This is the second time in recent months that a spot check by state inspectors has found problems with the Wake County school bus system. It also got poor marks for its bus maintenance.

The district has requested a reinspection of its inventory practices next month. State inspectors said the district is open to feedback and willing to make changes.

"They're concerned and they're trying to make things better," said Derek Graham, transportation services chief for the state Department of Public Instruction.

School districts in Cumberland and Durham counties also scored poorly in the inventory check, while the Harnett County district earned a perfect score, authorities said.


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  • lollly52 May 15, 2007

    Hi Uncle Ruckus – thanks for the tip re virus. {smile} System’s thinking is right – it is all connected. As we ship more of our jobs overseas, we are increasingly left with either service or knowledge workers. Those hard working, proud to have an 8th-grade education folks that used to find an honest living no longer have as many options. It is funny how something global like NAFTA created a problem with our Wake county schools. If the education funding works as others have explained in the forums, then maybe smaller districts are not a bad idea. But will that not generate more administrative bloat? Maybe vouchers/competition and more charter schools would be an option?

  • Uncle Ruckus May 15, 2007

    Lolly - I always find a good strong "brown" liquor helps take the misery away; i.e., a good scotch or Gentleman "Jack Daniels."

    Low education or no education doesn't mean prison for most. Many of my best workers over the years were illiterate, hard working folks. Did they live "high on the hog?" No, but they lived within their means. Your right, we will never get rid of poverty, particularity in a capitalistic driven economy. However, I rather see "lower IQ" Americans doing the work and being paid real wages, then the current group of illegal aliens (Mexico's over-population problem shouldn't be ours). No easy solutions because like in "systems theory" they are all inter-connected.

    But maintaining a bloated bureaucracy like WCPSS is not the answer either. IMHO, all those over-paid PHd's in the "Palace of Education" need to find employment more suited for demeanor. The DMV comes to mind.

  • refiman May 15, 2007

    After how they ripped us off last year, is anybody surprised????

  • lollly52 May 15, 2007

    Not_So_Dumb – excellent point. And Vouchers are also another interesting idea.

  • Fun May 15, 2007

    Vouchers = competition for government schools, parental control and efficiency!

  • Not_So_Dumb May 15, 2007

    Local funding is only a small portion of the total. The idea that a group of smaller districts would create massive inequalities is not supported by current funding structure. The state controls most of the money and receipt by districts is based on an equation that provides more money to those with the least available locally. Thus, the richer districts would get less, the poorer more. Right now, we are all $100 below state average in total - -$600 state and federal but +$500 in local. That shows the system for funding equality works pretty well as designed.

  • lollly52 May 15, 2007

    HI Uncle Ruckus – I am home today with a rotten virus – my logic may not be up to par. I agree that communism failed. Socialism is certainly less productive. But that may be apples and oranges when it comes to schools. IMHO, about 50% of the population will always have to carry the other 50%. From the Bible (the poor will always be with us) to IQ scores (half the population scores less than 90), some folks have more of what it takes than others. As a county, state, and nation, we cannot afford to waste one single person who is capable of helping to push the wagon that everyone else gets to ride in. If we allow the county to fracture into little districts, where some have indoor swimming pools and others do not have textbooks, we are not going to reach every child. Good schools are cheaper than good prisons??

  • Uncle Ruckus May 15, 2007

    Another fine example of "Bigger is Better" - NOT. Given the history of this Department of the WCPSS, I think the best option is fire everyone, and let a private contractor take over, i.e., outsource it.

    Smaller School Districts & Taxes -- Lolly, every student gets the same amount from the State, regardless of where they live. There are many "poor" counties in NC, but since we don't live there, not our problem. If you want great schools, you must be willing to pay for them. Therefore the decision is made by the people who actually pay the taxes. If East Wake School District wants schools like Chapel Hill's, and the people vote "yes" to tax increases, then you will have schools like Chapel Hills, but their tax rate as well. If Raleigh wants "ok" schools, then they will just leave their tax rate alone, once again, up to the voters, as it should be. Remember, communism failed and socialism is failing -- you can't have a perfect world.

  • GWALLY May 15, 2007

    ...in the story..."It has to be fixed," Associate Superintendent Don Haydon said. "We'd like to be able to improve the system. When you go to a Ford dealer, you don' t go through a process like that."

    This statement says it all........there is one reason and one reason only that the local Ford dealer would not have this problem........it's called PROFIT and JOB PERFORMANCE. An employee in the REAL market place...(1) can't get more TAX money to cover his mistakes. (2) is held ACCOUNTABLE for performance. (3) is FIRED if he does not do the job correctly.

  • lollly52 May 15, 2007

    IfByWhiskey – your question about breaking up the school systems into smaller parts. This is an interesting topic to discuss, especially with someone that I respect. My problem with breaking the districts into smaller parts is that some districts would be much wealthier than others. Under the smaller district scenario, would all the tax dollars still be divided evenly by number of children? Another question – the Wake County BOE is a large, expensive, group. Would we be making 3-4-5 separate BOE’s? With duplicate IT, payroll, management costs?