Lancaster ISD Forensic Audit Report Finds Possible “criminal, civil, and ethical violations”
During this week’s school board meeting, Trustees voted to make their forensic audit report conducted by Weaver & Associates public. The audit was conducted to examine actions by the previous Superintendent, Dr. Elijah Granger.
In October 2020, the Lancaster ISD board approved a five-year contract extension for Granger. Just two weeks later, Dr. Granger announced his resignation which the Lancaster ISD Board accepted with a 4-3 vote. His new contract had language requiring the district to pay Granger his salary and benefits through the end of it, for roughly a $2 million severance payment. This was the largest severance package ever in the United States, which led to a TEA investigation. The buyout was later voided by a Dallas County Judge.
School Board President Marion Hamilton said, “For the past 2017-2020, I’m sure you all sat in this same audience and watched this board and was wondering what was going on. So this brought out information that a lot of us that sat here already knew was transpiring, as well as additional eye-opening information that we wouldn’t have thought was going on in our administration.”
Findings from the audit show a “pattern” where Granger controlled and influenced the appointment and election of new board members as well as actions designed to influence the decision making of certain Board trustees. In addition, he facilitated the change of board policies to give the Superintendent more authority. We should note, as the report does, the current Board has since reversed these Board policies.
The audit concludes with recommendations the matter be referred to law enforcement and regulatory agencies for possible “criminal, civil, and ethical violations.” Furthermore, they also recommend the District works with TASB to request a compensation study with a look at stipends.
Lancaster ISD Board of Trustees Statement
March 30, 2022
To Our Lancaster ISD Educators, Parents, Students, and Community,
Our board represents a thriving district that has made positive strides within the past year. Beginning with the appointment of Dr. Perera as our superintendent to our outstanding educators who consistently do what is needed to educate our students, our district continues to move in the right direction. We firmly believe that the hard work of our district must not be overshadowed by past events and decisions not made in the best interest of our students, educators, and community.
In 2021, the Lancaster ISD Board of Trustees made the collective decision to have an outside agency conduct a forensic audit. Weaver & Associates conducted the audit so that board members could be informed of any previous internal misconduct within the years 2017-2020. We want to be clear that the information from the audit is in no way reflective of our current district administration and will be used to address any lingering issues from the past administration.
The findings of this audit have been shared with law enforcement and appropriate regulatory agencies to review for possible criminal, civil and ethical violations.
As a board, our commitment is to the students, educators, and our community. We understand that this information can bring uncertainty, questions, and distrust. Therefore, as we share this information, our goal is to remain transparent and provide you with clarity and answers to your questions.
We vow to continue to work on behalf of our educators and students. Thank you in advance for your continued support as we continue our efforts to operate in full transparency.
Lancaster ISD School Board
Lancaster ISD Superintendent of Schools Statement
March 30, 2022
Lancaster ISD Family,
For several months, our Board of Trustees has worked diligently to ensure that past wrongs of our district are made right. The board’s decision to conduct a forensic audit speaks to their collective dedication to taking the necessary steps needed to move our district forward with honesty and transparency. I encourage all district employees, parents, and community members to review the forensic audit results. I also want to reiterate our board’s proactive approach to addressing several past concerns identified in the forensic audit and their continued diligence to improve the inner workings of our school district.
Our board’s critical focus on the information in the audit has allowed our district leadership team to remain dedicated to achieving high student academic performance without distraction. I applaud our trustees for realizing the importance of developing a culture of honesty and trust by providing transparent communication with all internal and external stakeholders regarding the forensic audit. I want to thank our district employees and community for their continued support as we work to re-establish trust and open communication within our district. As we move forward, I am committed to keeping district stakeholders informed and abreast of pertinent information that impacts us as a whole.
I thank you for your continued support as we remain centered on student success.
Dr. A. Katrise Perera
Lancaster ISD Superintendent
TEA has been investigating the district but has not released findings to the public. Community members, parents, etc. are encouraged to view the audit on Lancaster ISD”s website and are able to submit questions to the district.