San Diego Unified’s iHigh Virtual Academy, “a tuition-free public high school offering students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma primarily online,” per its website, has an overspending problem. So says a report for the 2015 school year released October 21 by San Diego Unified’s office of Internal Audit. $83,754, representing 8.4 percent of compensation costs, “did not comply with the District’s requirements or were not fully documented.” On top of that, $27,381 “was improperly paid to one staff member.” Auditors also questioned “$58,640 in compensation and leave costs authorized by iHigh due to inadequate or missing documentation. We found that $27,018 of the costs were not supported with timecards. Another $31,622 of costs for various absences/leaves were not supported with written authorizations.” Adds the report, “We were not provided with evidence that the Principal performed the required review of the Audit Paid to Reported Time report. This review would have enabled the Principal to identify the missing documentation and to take the necessary actions to secure it.”
The situation was found to have improved in 2016, but issues remained. “Our review identified $8,979 in overpayments to the iHigh staff,” says a follow-up audit letter to the school’s principal, Vicki Conway, formerly head of Oaks Christian Online School in Westlake Village, who took over at iHigh this past August. “A significant portion of the overpayments resulted from an error in the calculation of the hourly rate applied to the additional teaching time for this assignment.” An attached September 26 email from the district’s Area 1 superintendent Bruce Bivens to internal audit director John Cashmon says “this matter has been referred to Legal Services for a determination of whether the district can or will take legal action to recoup any overpayments.” The school has 13 employees.