"Extensive inappropriate activity" found at Delaware Military Academy
A state audit discovered excessive personal reimbursements were given to the DMA's superintendent Jack Wintermantel.
The audit report follows an investigation by State Auditor Tom Wagner into allegations that the school leader received two reimbursements for the same purchase. Wagner's report shows Wintermatnel received more than $26,000 in duplicate reimbursements.
The DMA is a publicly funded charter school with about 560 cadets in grades 9-12.
The audit also states that school staff were too intimidated to put a stop to the problem. The audit report states, "They simply do what is requested without question because, as one individual stated, 'I want to keep my job.'"
Examples of extra payments
The audit cites examples of the double payments, including invoices Wintermantel allegedly submitted twice. In August 2010, Wintermantel purchased $4,980 worth of vocabulary books for the school. He was reimbursed for that purchase August 23, 2010. He resubmitted the same invoice on September 8, 2010, and was again reimbursed for $4,980.
The audit also accuses Witnermantel of improperly using funds to purchase items including flowers for $1,059, as well as pizza, beef jerky, razor blades and toothpaste from Costco for $89. Wagner blames the school's lenient internal controls over the reimbursement procedures for allowing those payments to go through.
Wagner also cited the school's disregard for the state's accounting manuals as a major factor in allowing the improper payments to occur. "It is ironic that the school develops characteristics in their cadets such as strength of character, individual excellence, and responsible leadership, yet some of the administration is not upheld to the same standards."
In a written response to the Auditor's office, chairman of the DMA Board of Directors Donald Fulton admits that some reimbursements were made that should not have been made, but he insists, "All duplicate reimbursements that have been found to date, both through your investigation and through our own initial internal review, have been repaid to the school." He says that since 2011, the school has "installed procedures to assure that duplicate reimbursements will not happen again."
Wagner was not pleased with the response from DMA. "We are saddened by the DMA Board of Directors' response that downplays, and in some cases completely ignores, the most significant facts identified in this case."
Wagner has forwarded his findings to the State Attorney General and is recommending that the Red Clay School District and the Department of Education review the school's charter. He says the school's resistance to fixing problems alleged in the audit could put DMA at risk of losing its charter.