Auditor raises questions at Delgado and CATC

A report from the Louisiana legislative auditor released Monday found different cases where Delgado Community College employees participated in fraud, including one instance where an unnamed former bursar, whom police have yet to find, allegedly stole more than $11,000 intended for students.

In total, the audit uncovered more than $38,000 in fraud. On Monday, a school spokesman said Delgado employees discovered the discrepancies on their own and have since put in place measures to prevent future occurrences.

In another report, the legislative auditor found that close to 700 students enrolled at Capital Area Technical College in Baton Rouge did not receive more than $58,000 in hardship waivers for which they were eligible.

In phone interviews, representatives from the technical college said the issue wasn’t that students did not receive waivers they applied for, but rather that the institution did a poor job letting students know they were eligible for the financial relief.

At Delgado, the audit found that students participating in the Federal Work-Study program received $22,574 in unearned payments as a result of an unnamed employee forging signatures, altering time sheets and violating program regulations.

The Federal Work-Study program pays needy students for the part-time jobs they hold on campus. The program is intended to help those students finance the cost of college.

The audit further says that multiple supervisors signed time sheets and did not ensure that students weren’t working their jobs during times when they were supposed to be in class. Those actions resulted in Delgado paying students $4,120 for work that wasn’t performed.

A campus police investigation further found that a Delgado job development officer knowingly signed student timesheets he knew to be false. The report says the unidentified employee also admitted that he allowed students to work on classroom assignments when they were supposed to be working — a violation of the Federal Work-Study program rules.

In another instance, a finding reported by the school disclosed that a former bursar with Delgado’s City Park Campus Controller’s Office made off with $11,851 in cash from ATM-like machines on campus between May 2008 and July 2011.

The audit report says the former employee was the primary person responsible for collecting from and depositing money into Delgado’s Dolphin Card machines.

The machines, named for Delgado’s mascot, allow students to put money on their student identification cards as a way to purchase items from campus vendors while also building credit.

Three machines, in particular, recorded collections of $19,973 during a three-month period when only $8,122 was actually collected and deposited into Delgado’s bank account, the report says.

The former bursar took an extended leave from August 2011 until her resignation in October the same year. Delgado personnel and law enforcement have been unable to find the former employee, the report says.

“We found these issues through our own self-evaluations and reported them,” Delgado’s executive director of public relations, Carol Gniady, said Monday. “It’s unfortunate because the amount of money is not insignificant. We’ve made improvements and we’ve put policies in place so this doesn’t happen again.”

An audit of Capital Area Technical College found that the institution did not adequately communicate to students that certain hardship waivers exempting them from paying certain fees were available. The report says 693 students were eligible for waivers totaling $58,635.

The technical college’s Chief Business Officer Mike Hubbs said the eligible students would have gotten the waivers had they filled out the forms.

The college has since advertised the waivers more prominently on its website’s “registration” page, Hubbs said. “The legislative auditor’s office viewed it as the waiver information was not as accessible as it should’ve been,” he said.