SC Department of Education places Midlands school district on fiscal watch

Paul Osmundson

A Midlands school district is on fiscal watch after the South Carolina Department of Education conducted an audit earlier this year.

Richland 1 was given the results and recommendations of a p-card audit in October. In a letter, the State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said the audit found “significant deficiencies and material weaknesses” that could affect the financial well-being of the district.

Fiscal watch is the first and lowest level of concern, per state law.

“The District appreciates those identified opportunities to improve,” Karen York, the executive director of communications for the district, said in a statement. “However, in our opinion, none of the findings were significant or rose to material impact.”

Richland 1 has “internal controls” that review all transactions on a monthly basis, York said.

“Those checks and balances discovered issues concerning a former employee that were turned over to law enforcement,” York said in a statement.

York didn’t identify the employee. But former Richland 1 procurement manager Travis Braddy was recently indicted on embezzlement and misconduct in office charges for misusing $23,170.41 in public money to make personal purchases. The state attorney general’s office said the embezzlement occurred primarily through misuse of p-cards. Braddy had paid $9,388 to a “sham company” controlled by someone close to him, disguised $3,358 in hotel charges as personal protective equipment purchased for the district and billed the district over $10,000 for a rental car, according to the attorney general’s office.

The district has 10 days to appeal the declaration and 60 days to send a recovery plan to the Department of Education to correct issues identified in the audit. The department will then approve or deny that plan within 30 days of receiving it.

Richland 1, according to a district statement, has received clean audits for 34 consecutive years.