Local News

Wake Bus Parts Inventory Found Lacking by State

Posted May 14, 2007 6:16 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2007 10:25 a.m. EDT

— 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.