RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County school board voted 5-3 Tuesday night to hire Summorford Accountancy to conduct an audit of the Wake County Public School System.
Out of the three companies that submitted bids to conduct the audit, Summorford offered the most expensive option. The audit will cost Wake County taxpayers about $495,000.
"We cannot afford not do this audit," Patti Head, chair of the Wake County Board of Education, said.
What they wanted, Head said, was a firm that will not only audit the school system's finances, but will also do a criminal analysis of where the school is vulnerable to fraud. Summerford, an independent auditing firm, specializes in fraud.
"We need to spend the dollars to get the best answers and to take the lowest bidder so to speak is not always the best option. We want a quality audit," school board member Amy White said.
School board members also said that the attorney for the school system would try to negotiate a better price.
The audit comes about a week after Vern Hatley, the former head of the Wake County Public School System's transportation department, and two former employees of a Wilson automotive parts company pleaded guilty to charges connected with a scheme to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars.
Investigators said the people involved submitted orders for fake parts to supplier Barnes Motor & Parts. Former employees at Barnes said they set up an account for the school system employees involved in the scheme. While some of the money may have been spent on school supplies, investigators said much of it went to personal purchases and items such as gift cards, vehicles, boats, camper homes and golf carts
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