Audit questions college’s record keeping

Southeastern Louisiana University, with about 15,000 students, either misplaced or lost more than $50,000 worth of computer equipment it loaned to high schools as part of a program to encourage disadvantaged students to go to college.

A report from Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera also finds fault in other areas surrounding SLUs handling of the federal TRIO Talent Search initiative.

The findings include the Hammond university’s habit of admitting students into the program without the proper paperwork and letting student workers get away with claiming hours worked at times when they were supposed to be in class.

Sam Domiano, SLUs interim vice president for administration and finance, agreed with the report and has since spelled out a number of steps the school has taken to clean up the program.

TRIO Talent Search provides academic, career and financial counseling to students interested in pursuing college degrees. Students in the program have access to counselors who guide them through college application and financial aid processes.

The audit report says SLU failed to keep an up-to-date inventory of the computer equipment loaned to different high schools. In a sample of 16 pieces of equipment looked at by auditors, three items were listed in the wrong location and three items listed as off campus were missing altogether.

In all, the audit says, SLU lost track of 40 pieces of equipment worth $53,000.

When auditors looked at a sample of 150 students who’d been admitted into the program, they found that three had incomplete or missing application forms, while out of 10 student database records scrutinized, three were listed in a database under the wrong eligibility code.

Additionally, auditors found that all 78 students participants from Varnado High School in Washington Parish had incomplete applications.

In a third finding, auditors said two student workers charged SLU for hours worked at times when they were supposed to be in class. This happened a combined 38 times, the report says, costing the school close to $600.

In a written response to the report, Domiano said SLU worked with its partner schools to document the missing computer equipment. A review found that the computers had either been destroyed or sold as surplus equipment. Domiano said many of the items were old, with some dating to 1992.

He said SLU has added more steps to the application review process.

, making it less likely that incomplete applications will be accepted in the future.

Domiano added that Southeastern has reminded all faculty, students and staff that school policy does not allow student workers to work when they are scheduled to be in class.

All of those corrective actions, Domiano said, “have been fully implemented and will be responsible for ensuring all future compliance.”