Former Indian River schools CFO made many inappropriate purchases

Delaware State Auditor Thomas Wagner released a Special Investigation Report on the Indian River School District Thursday afternoon. 

In January of this year, the Office of the Auditor of Accounts received various complaints regarding the IRSD that alleged financial misconduct by their Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Patrick Miller. The IRSD also had human resource-related concerns about their business office, which was supervised by Miller.

Miller was placed on administrative leave in April and then retired at the end of June. He had been the IRSD CFO for almost 18 years, a job he took almost immediately after resigning from a similar position in the Brandywine School District. He was criminally charged following a state audit of the Brandywine School District and entered a no contest plea; he was sentenced to community service and a year of probation. The Brandywine charges came after he was hired by the IRSD.

Wagner's report states that during his office's investigation, the IRSD lacked formal policies and procedures for any of their financial processes.

"Not only did the district lack appropriate oversight and internal controls to prevent and detect financial improprieties, the blind faith placed in the CFO allowed him to create an environment ripe with intimidation tactics, favoritism, and nepotism," states the report.

Amongst other things, the report lists several purchases deemed inappropriate by the office of the auditor, including over $350 worth of Alex & Ani bracelets for certain IRSD office staff and a $380 Tiffany & Co. bracelet given as a recognition gift to the Superintendent.

The IRSD will go to a referendum on Tuesday, Nov. 22, hoping to raise property taxes in order to cover the costs of significant student enrollment growth.

Wagner's report said, "The argument that other districts may spend their money similarly does not justify the practice, especially since, amidst all of our findings, the district has expressed ongoing budget concerns."

View the full auditor's report here.