A Tulsa school board member is resigning from his position on the district’s finance committee.
Dr. Jerry Griffin says he’s also asking the state auditor to do a forensic audit of the district for the past six years.
Dr. Griffin says he doesn’t know of any wrongdoings by the district, but because of allegations through the years from some parents, he says doing a forensic audit would be a chance to clear the air.
He says he was on the committee more than a year, and they meet monthly to discuss the school’s finances.
He says he asked several times for different reports but was never given them.
“I always get the excuse that our system doesn’t have that data, or we can’t generate that data, and I’ve more or less gone along, I’ve tried to be compliant, submissive I guess sometimes and go along with what they tell me, but finally I decided enough is enough,” he said.
He says the district is audited every year, but he believes the state needs to do a full forensic audit into the district’s finances.
“The administration and the board should be the first ones calling the state auditor and saying welcome to our home, we’ve got clean books, but again they resisted so it makes you a little queasy about that,” he said.
He says while he is leaving the finance committee, he has no intention of resigning from his position on the school board and will continue to serve the parents and students at TPS.
“I’ll keep fighting for justice and for the parents, and for the kids of Tulsa, that’s why I’m there,” he said.
TPS did release the following statement on behalf of Board President Stacey Woolley:
The Tulsa Board of Education exists to serve the children and families of our city. Our most important responsibility is to safeguard and steward our public school district and protect the needs and interests of the children we serve. For nearly a year, the Board of Education has been working intentionally to shift to student-outcomes focused governance – putting student outcomes at the center of all that we do together. It is extraordinarily disappointing to see Dr. Jerry Griffin making baseless allegations that take critical time, energy, and resources away from the work of supporting children and families.
I have had the privilege to serve alongside a dedicated group of board members who work incredibly hard and fully understand the responsibilities they hold as our district’s governing body – including the fiduciary duties that are foundational to keeping our district operating effectively. For more than a decade, Tulsa Public Schools has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association and the Association of School Business Officials for excellence in financial management and reporting. Annually, the district engages an independent auditor to complete a comprehensive review of all financial reporting and those audits are available in the comprehensive annual financial reports, which are publicly available on the district’s website. For more than a decade, the district has received “unmodified opinions.” For those of us who are not accountants, that signals a positive audit report.
As a member of the board finance committee, Dr. Griffin has met with these independent auditors multiple times, and in fact, after one of those meetings, Dr. Griffin shared that he did not believe a forensic audit was necessary. It was certainly shocking and disappointing to read a press release from Dr. Griffin that included false claims about his access to information and a call for a forensic audit that he previously deemed unnecessary. I would welcome the opportunity to have further discussion with Dr. Griffin on this issue – and was attempting to schedule a meeting – but he did not give me that opportunity before sending out his release.
There is one sentiment in Dr. Griffin’s press release with which I agree: it is time to protect the ‘cookie jar’ from unproductive media stunts that distract all of us from focusing on our students.