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Mississippi auditor slams Hinds school district spending

(AP) — The state auditor’s office in Mississippi said Monday that it has found “alarming” spending practices in the Hinds County School District.

Auditor Shad White said in a news release that the district has kept poor control of its credit cards and bank accounts. He said an assistant superintendent was responsible for more than $50,000 in improper spending, including starting a contract for a personal “car allowance” without permission from the district’s school board.

The auditor also said the district spent $2 million for electronic tablets and laptop computers without taking competitive bids.

“This uncontrolled and unlawful administrative spending is not acceptable,” White said. “It shortchanges teachers and students. It’s not fair for taxpayers. They all have a right to be angry about this kind of administrative spending. It results in money going outside the classroom and it violates our spending laws.”

The Hinds County School District, which has about 5,600 students, said in its own statement it has been working with the auditor’s office for several weeks. The district says it is reviewing and revising its own financial policies and practices and is training staff members who deal with money.

“We are proud to report that the district remains on strong financial footing,” the school district statement said in the release from its communications director, John Neal. “We will continue our efforts to safely and effectively invest and spend public funds to ensure every student in HCSD has access to the resources they need to succeed.”

The district has students from small towns outside the capital of Jackson: Bolton, Byram, Edwards, Raymond, Terry and Utica.