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Maisano Chastises Lathrop Over Poor School Audit

School board member Christine Maisano calls for an investigation of the finance department upon learning that auditors found the same deficiencies that have been cited for years.

Christine Maisano didn't mince words. She told school Business Manager Jason Lathrop exactly how she felt about the Board of Education getting another bad audit.

"The accounting practices have been unacceptable, misleading and inaccurate," Maisano, a school board member, read from a prepared statement Tuesday evening. "With a staff of seven individuals supervised by a full-time director of finance, I cannot understand why records are not current and complete, why information cannot be provided to the board, who should be overseeing these matters, and why (school Superintendent) Mr. Serio seems to be in the dark when it comes to errors being found."

The FY'10 town and school audit arrived about two weeks ago. It concluded the town had a $5.19 million deficit and cited the school for the same deficiencies that have been noted by auditors for years. Such as, bank reconciliations for operating, payroll and school lunch accounts were not reconciled "in a timely manner." Cash receipts and disbursements were not posted in the general ledger "in a timely manner," resulting in inaccurate cash balances, revenues and expenditures.

"With regards to Mr. Lathrop, I must say I find it insulting that in spite of requests made to him at each meeting, there’s a blatant disregard to provide the Board of Education with information they need to do their jobs for the citizens of East Haven," said Maisano. "Mr. Lathrop never came to us and asked for additional help or conveyed that there were any problems to the board and assured us everything was well with the finances.”        

Lathrop quietly listened, offering no defense.

“I’d like to note that I’m embarrassed to be part of a board who is now in the position that they are being asked to present a budget to the town, which at this point in time has no financial credibility," said Maisano. "I demand answers to how this has  been allowed to happen."

Maisano called for a "complete investigation" of Lathrop's department.

Asked for comment afterwards, Lathrop said, "No comment. Unfortunately, no comment."

Later on in the meeting, Serio said he wanted to set up a Finance/Grants Subcommittee meeting to discuss the audit. Maisano chairs the subcommittee.

"A type of roll-up-your-sleeves to get answers we haven't gotten before," the superintendent said. "I think it's an important meeting to set things straight."

A meeting to discuss the audit was scheduled for March 14 in the boardroom at the high school. Public is invited to listen but not to comment.

Maisano again had words for Lathrop when discussing a request to pay invoices totaling $2,455,214. She and the board just learned Tuesday evening that a school employee was overpaid $9,000 in Workers' Comp payments.  Maisano asked Lathrop to explain.

Lathrop said the individual was overpaid for five months. Lathrop said he and the employee and the union recently met to talk restitution. It was tentatively agreed that the individual would repay the school department over 12 months, Lathrop said, but the agreement had not yet been signed.

"How did this happen?" Maisano would ask several times.

Lathrop offered no explanation.

Board member Tom Hennessey told Lathrop that the overpaid employee could refuse to sign the agreement and take the school to court, and legal fees could amount to $5,000 a week.

Lathrop remained silent.

Rosie March 09, 2011 at 03:35 PM
I think Mrs. Maisano did a great job in holding Mr. Lathrop accountable. He should be terminated immediately, as he would if he worked in the private sector. The guy is useless, and can't do a simple ledger. Anyone who has a checkbook can do a simple ledger. That being said, it was this BOE who hired him, wasn't it? If I am wrong, please correct me. And we all know that education is the lowest priority for this administration, just look at the flat budget 2 years in a row. I say get rid of them all and lets start fresh.
Gene Ruocco March 09, 2011 at 03:37 PM
I guess I'm hopeless in the thought that the truth would prevail. Also I find it so hard to just let the patch turn into a blog against an administration that has ended the wrongs of the past on the town side and has a BOE for the first time in a long time, which is trying to correct what has been going on there for so long. This is how I truly feel; you can continue to paint a false picture of me, but the people who are on Boards and Commissions in East Haven know that I never tell them how or what to do, that is not my style. All I ask of them is to get all the info on the subject at hand and then do what is right for this town. That has been my principal guide line since I have become Chairman of the Democratic Party and it has worked for me so far. I think it will work again in November.
Gene Ruocco March 09, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Rosie, Yes your wrong again, he was hired by the last BOE. In an effort to control the pacman of eating up our tax dollars at the BOE a flat budget was given by our town council. The BOE gets 52% of all the taxes raised in East Haven, how much more can the tax payer afford. They need to spend what they get under an accountable system; there is enough money there to educate the children of this town in a grand fashion, if it is spend wisely.
Rosie March 09, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Thank you for correcting me, I can admit when I was wrong, unlike some people. Regardless, the children of this town are worth every penny spent, and more. That, of course, is my opinion as a parent. And I agree that a lot of money is wated, all around. But, there are a lot of great people who work for the BOE, a lot of good teachers, administrators and support staff. They are not all crooked. And, there are those that are not worth anything. It is unfortunate that because of unions, which I know you are big on, we can't get rid of those who don't deserve to be employed. It is always the children and the "little" guy that suffer.
Lou March 09, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Rosie I agree 110%. In the real world this individual would be terminated for lack of performance. Why is he still employed? I really don't know enough about what needs to be done to remove him from this position and fill it with a competant individual, but someone out there must. It really upsets me that my increased tax dollars are not being accounted for correctly when it comes to education. As an auditor who has audited numerous public and private entities, the first thing that jumps out at me is that there are fraudulent activity going on. Why else do questions constantly go unanswered and why wouldn't bank (cash) reconciliations be done on a timely basis? Why have these inept accounting practices been allowed to go on for years? Hello people wake up and smell the coffee. Why isn't there an investigation going on? What is being covered up here? It is up to the town to do something. An auditors responsibility is to form an opinion as to whether or not the financial statements are free form material error, not to find fraud. I am willing to bet that with a little digging, most of these questions I pose could be answered.
Gene Ruocco March 09, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Lou DiNola, Christine has called for an investigation to take place. Up to now the BOE was being told that their concerns were being addressed. Now they know different, hence the call for the investigation. Maybe Lou, as an auditor you can make contact with Christine an offer your companies services. I think you are right on your opinions and would like to see how far back this disservice to our town has been going on. Give her a call.
Lou March 09, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Thanks Gene, by the way you were right on track with your first comment, FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!! I see a meeting to discuss the audit is scheduled for March 14 in the boardroom at the high school, but unfortunately the public cannot comment. I would also be very interested to find out how far back this goes and how much $$$$ this disservice has caused our town. I try not to get involved, but when it comes to education and the possibility of my children attending EH schools, I cannot help but give my two cents.
Marianne Cesare March 09, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Since we are talking about the BOE meeting I would like to add that it was addressed by parents regarding the rumor of the Little Jacket program being transferred to the Park and Rec Dept. As parents spoke of their concerns and support of the educational aspect that comes out of this program, the Chairman felt it necessary to berate and humiliate some parents claiming he had just assured them that this transfer would not take place, however, it was mentioned when talking about full day Kindergarten. So, which is it? My personal opinion is that the chairman is completely unprofessional and neglects to remember that he is an ELECTED member of this board and his job is to hear the parents and their concerns, not chastise them. Let's hope the parents of this town will show their disgust of your behavior Mr. Chairman with their votes or lack of for November's election.
StavenObserver March 09, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Now for this weeks episode of "Throw Gene's puppets under the bus".... 2 totally different boards since April came into office, and you're still yapping about Finkle's board. Give it up Gene. Now its this boards fault, why was Jason hired? yet he's not doing his job. Theres your first cut this year
Ron March 09, 2011 at 10:12 PM
To Rosie, Gene is right when he told you that Jason Lathrop was hired by the last BOE, but what he didn't tell you was that the last BOE was also controlled by the Democrats. You know the people he said "they were not asked to run again by the DTC", the same DTC that he was and still is the chairman of. So don't be too quick to admit your wrong when you are a lot closer to the truth, rather than the spin some people want to put on it.
Lou March 09, 2011 at 10:53 PM
Who cares which party hired him, the point is that the current system is broken and needs to be fixed. Let's start focusing on the issues.....
Gene Ruocco March 10, 2011 at 12:44 AM
Ron, could it be the DTC did not like the actions of those Democrats over their two year terms, so they offered the voters new faces to choose from. Now Ron, you did not tell Rosie that Mr. Finkle was on the BOE along with those that were not asked to run again when Jason was hired. Why am I not surprised that with an article with this much substance in it, all you can write about Ron, is the actions the DTC took to provide the people of East Haven with a well rounded BOE. We have two teachers and an accountant among our six members. The other three are comprised of two mothers with children in the system and a police officer who served as the first DARE officer in the Town East Haven.
Gene Ruocco March 10, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Ron, could it be the DTC did not like the actions of those Democrats over their two year terms, so they offered the voters new faces to choose from. Now Ron, you did not tell Rosie that Mr. Finkle was on the BOE along with those that were not asked to run again when Jason was hired. Why am I not surprised that with an article with this much substance in it, all you can write about Ron, is the actions the DTC took to provide the people of East Haven with a well rounded BOE. We have two teachers and an accountant among our six members. The other three are comprised of two mothers with children in the system and a police officer who served as the first DARE officer in the Town East Haven.
Rosie March 10, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Yes, waht a great board. we have a chairman that has about as much class as a flea, who is a loose cannon ready to explode at any given moment, a teacher (DePalma) that talks in circles and really doesn't say anything, clueless Kluth, well that's all I have to say about that, and the other "teacher" who only seems to care about sports. Yes, what a "well rounded" board. Have you actually attended any of these meetings? It is a comedy act. Mrs. Maisano is about the only new board member with any sense at all. At least she is trying to hold people accountable. The rest of this "well rounded" board are useless. Hey, we can say we tried with a new board. It didn't work. In November, we can try,try again.
Ron March 10, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Rosie, To quote the Great Jackie Gleason " Baby your the greatest !!! "
Lisa March 10, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Rosie, I agree with you 100%.
ASmith March 12, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Did you get promised a job in pw this time?
ASmith March 12, 2011 at 03:09 AM
I heard your getting ralphie boys job.
jane March 15, 2011 at 10:12 AM
If Jason stayed out of the cafeteria maybe he could do the job he was hired for. He can be found going school to school asking workers the what the 5 compotents of a reimburseable lunch. The food service director should be doing this,not the finance director.
Rosie March 15, 2011 at 01:59 PM
He is into, and screws up everything...food service, bus schedules (he put kids that live on Thompson Street on Thompson Ave. buses), moving office equipment (tells offices where equipment should go...who cares???). He needs to do HIS job and not pass it off to others, and stop trying to be superintendent.
Ellis March 15, 2011 at 02:58 PM
I'm getting the feeling from what Rosie posts, she must be a BOE employee.
Rosie March 15, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe I just pay attention. Or maybe I just "know" people. Or maybe, people are not as transparent as they think they are. And maybe, I am not even a she. Keep guessing.
Lisa March 15, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Watch it Rosie....the bullies are going to start to tell you to put your full name like they do to me.
Rosie March 15, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Thanks Lisa, but not to worry. I don't give in to bullying. I can state my opinion, and facts with or without my full name. That's democracy!!
Lisa March 16, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Well said ! I agree 100% - and may be has a little to do with freedom of speech. I think the opinions of the regular citizen and taxpayer should be taken seriously. It seems that you have to be a political candidate or the "head" of something or other to get your opinion heard. There's no reason why people can't throw ideas and opinions around without getting nasty and without the name calling.
Ellis March 16, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Lisa FYI..I'm not the resident bully on Patch...just an observer who noticed Rosie knows a lot of "internal" things. Never chastised them for it now did I? Wow..
Lisa March 16, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Ellis - I was not referring to you at all. What I was referring to was there are some people who say you should not state your opinion unless you use your full name, etc. a FEW of the people who use their full name tend to be "bullyish" if you have a different opinion. As an example, when I mentioned what another East Haven resident told me at work, I was told I didn't know anything about town politics and I should use my full name.
Ellis March 16, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Lisa- Sorry...I just thought that seeing you replied right after my post, you were referring to me. There are MANY people that think that because you don't use your full name, you know nothing. So wrong! Just by being an observant resident, you learn ALOT!
Lisa March 16, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Ellis - That is so true. Just by observing the posts in this publication you learn you really cares about the town and who really cares only about themselves.
Rosie March 16, 2011 at 05:24 PM
I agree with Lisa. Just because we don't use our full names does not mean we should be dismissed. As you can see from my posts, I do know a little something about what goes on in this down. I don't have to use my full name to be right. I am not saying I am always right, but I can admit that. But, alot of what is said is 100% correct. It's funny how the powers that be have nothing to say when we are right, only when we are wrong. Silence speaks volumes!!

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