Schools superintendent to give his report on missing day-care money on Tuesday

Keys schools Superintendent Mark Porter on Tuesday will give his long-awaited report about more than $20,000 missing from a Monroe County School District day-care program, but don't expect a complete report.

"I think we'll give [the School Board] some specific answers but not all specifics," Porter said of Tuesday's board meeting at 2 p.m. at the A.J. Henriquez Administrative Complex, 241 Trumbo Road in Key West.

"We're not going to be able to identify who is culpable," he said.

The district's contracted accounting firm, King & Walker, issued a report in May 2015 stating that from July 2014 to March 2015, there were Horace O'Bryant School receipts for its day-care program totaling $62,298. Actual cash deposits, though, added up to $41,559, a difference of $20,739.

School District attorney Dirk Smits sent a list of six questions on Jan. 28 to about six staff members, including James Drake, the district's executive director of finance and performance, about their involvement with the day-care program, their ability to access money, the first time they learned there was missing money from the program's account and who they spoke with about the potential problem.

There were initially no responses but "people are now talking," Porter said. He said he will have his written report to distribute Tuesday. He was finalizing it late this week.

Board Vice Chairman John Dick said "the money was never secure. It was in a drawer and three people had access to it and it wasn't locked."

Tina Godfrey oversaw the day-care program in the 2014-15 school year. Her contract was not renewed for the following year due to, among other things, "quality and quantity of work," "attitude and cooperation" and lack of "cost-consciousness," HOB Principal Mike Henriquez wrote in her job review.

Dick said "we're very confident we're not going to have anyone on staff who stole any money. But we're still going to be doing discipline. Everyone who is going to be punished will be punished for lack of following policy and procedure."

"It's going to be tricky. We have to say something to the public but we can't be sued," he said.

State Attorney Catherine Vogel's office is also conducting an investigation into the missing money.

News of the missing day-care money was kept out of the sunshine for almost a year after Henriquez found out in November 2014 and reported it to the Porter administration. Most School Board members didn't find out about it until after the Keynoter reported the news in November 2015.