There is no hint of mishandling of donations in the audit report, something that Board President Anne Sharp stressed during the candidate forum Monday night at Missouri Southern State University.
"The state audit showed that we had not mishandled anybody's donations or anybody's money," Sharp said, answering a question about the district's financial condition.
The lack of any finding of wrongdoing is also noted on the district's website by Superintendent C. J. Huff. "We are also pleased to report that there were no findings related to the significant number of donations given to Joplin Schools and Joplin Schools Foundation," Huff said.
What neither Sharp nor Huff mention is that auditors were unable to examine documentation for more than $4 million worth of donations because those donations were made to the Joplin R-8 Foundation, an independent entity over which the auditors had no jurisdiction.
Administration sources tell the Turner Report that all donations that were earmarked for specific purposes were sent to the Foundation and then were returned to the school district where much of the money was placed in the general fund.
Donations that were not specifically earmarked, for the most part did not go through the Foundation.
Undoubtedly, one of the questions that would have been asked had the late State Auditor Thomas Schweich had been in the Joplin High School cafeteria to hold the public release of the audit earlier this month would have been if there had been any mishandling of the donations.
Schweich, with his reputation for honesty, would likely have said that no wrongdoing had been found, but his team had been unable to examine at least three-quarters of the donations that were sent the school's way.
The Joplin R-8 Foundation's Form 990 document filed for July 2011 through June 2012 shows $4,257,009 in donations.
What some of that money was used for (not all was spent during that time period) is detailed in this fashion:
-$40,000 Joplin Schools technology
-$34,700 Major Saver Distribution to Joplin Public Schools
-$44,292 Bright Futures
-$79,035 Joplin Schools Snack Pack
-$35,292 Elementary school percussion instruments
-$1,845,915 Joplin R-8 School District miscellaneous needs
Similarly, the auditors did not have the authority to examine Bright Futures USA documents, since that is also an independent entity, allegedly not connected with the school district.