PROVO — Prompted by findings of a state audit two weeks ago, the Provo School District is conducting its own investigation into the Timpview football program.
The Utah State Office of Education refused to release the findings of an audit that examined the athletic and club accounts in the Provo School District to the public, but results were shared with the district and board members in a closed meeting on March 2.
The Deseret News is appealing state superintendent Larry Shumway's decision to classify the final audit report as protected.
However, documents obtained by the Deseret News indicate the audit report raised concern among district officials about the finances of the Timpview football program.
Specifically, officials appear to be concerned with possible violations of the district's purchasing policies and the Utah State procurement code.
A district report summarizing the findings said a sample of 55 checks issued over two and a half years highlighted the problems that involve Timpview head football coach Louis Wong, as well as former principal George Bayles, who retired at the end of last year. The checks totaled $141,926.46, but it is $114,567 that raised red flags for district officials.
Among the alleged issues are:
Expenditures to Universal Athletics for uniforms that totaled $19,923.13 without first acquiring bids.
Expenditures to Yardworx that totaled $14,680, which apparently were acquired without bids and using split invoices to avoid the bidding process.
Personal car repairs for Wong, who is also a driver's education teacher, totaled $396.36.
Expenditures on meals for teachers and/or coaches at Magelbys for $810.75 and $268.87.
Lunch for coaches at ESPN Zone that totaled $587.03.
Also at issue appears to be a contract signed with Under Armour that provides $10,000 in clothing each year to Timpview's coaches. Wong receives $1,500 in a personal clothing allowance. While that agreement appears to be at odds with district policy, it was approved by Bayles, according to the documents.
While board members are not allowed to comment on the audit's findings, district officials did confirm Monday night that they are investigating these issues. Business administrator for Provo District Kerry Smith refused to discuss specific allegations, but said officials hoped to complete the investigation soon.
"We hope to complete it in an expedient and timely manner," said Smith.
The Provo School board's website has an executive session scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. Under the posting, it says only that the board will discuss personnel issues. Also listed on the site are two meetings schedule for Wednesday evening - a work meeting at 5 p.m. and a general board meeting at 7 p.m.
The state's investigation was requested by former Provo superintendent Randall Merrill in October of 2011. He told the Deseret News when he resigned in January that he felt ethically obligated to do so, although he offered no specific reasons.
Merrill's request came after months of work on a policy that would govern how donations and fundraising is handled by Provo's schools. That committee made recommendations to district officials, but that process was put on hold in December when community members feared Wong was going to be fired.
Supporters packed the district offices to show support for the coach who said he welcomed more guidance from the district regarding fundraising and donations.
He also reiterated that he never did anything without approval from Timpview's administration.
"Was it done correctly?" Wong asked after that December meeting. "From my perception, I did everything that I did and it was right and proper. Now we just want to make checks and balances. The time was now to change and move forward. We can do a lot of good things."
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