Audit documents FSCJ issues, makes recommendations

State senator wants grand jury inquiry of Florida State College at Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A management audit of Florida State College at Jacksonville presented to its board of trustees Thursday morning made 15 recommendations, including creation of a chief operating officer and internal auditor positions, elimination of the position of executive vice president, implement reforms to payroll and financial aid procedures, and continuing to require that the college president's travel and expenditures to be pre-approved by the board chairman.


The $75,000 audit by the Tallahassee firm MGT of America was ordered by the board after a series of problems came to light at the college earlier this year, including the awarding of $4.2 million in federal Pell Grants to 1,300 students by mistake.

While the college had originally expected the students to repay that money, FSCJ's board agreed earlier this money to pay the money, plus a $515,000 penalty to the U.S. Department of Education.

An audit of the college by the State of Florida Auditor General released in January found the college had not provided dated to the state Department of Education on Continuing Workforce Education courses funded by the state and recommended the college strengthen its reporting on adult education courses and procedures for assessing user fees.

The state audit also found a employee's employment with another organization doing business with the college was a potential conflict of interest and found several problems with President Steven Wallace's contract regarding severance pay and his transfer of more than 80 days of unused sick leave into vacation leave.

State Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, a member of the senate's higher education committee, has asked for a grand jury investigation into possible malfeasance at FSJC.

"Perhaps they could have some findings ... shed some more light on what went on that time with this misappropriation of funds," Oelrich told Channel 4.

After Tuesday's board meeting, Wallace said he had no comment on the request for a grand jury, saying, "There is no criminal activity that any of us are aware of at Florida State College.  This is an outstanding state college and there is nothing in evidence that suggests anything otherwise."

Incoming board chairwoman Gwen Yates said she is concerned about the issues raised and the negative publicity FSCJ has recently received, and she plans to make some changes.

"You don't want your college to have that press because you care about your college," Yates said. "But you should always give yourself time to look at the whole picture, to  find out what the information is and then follow though on that."

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