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Sweetwater Union High School District's ability to pay bills revoked by San Diego County Office of Education

Sweetwater Union High School District education center
Posted at 9:27 AM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 12:27:35-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The Sweetwater Union High School District is not being allowed to pay its bills on its own after the San Diego County Office of Education found that the district lacked “fiscal accountability.”

In a letter sent to Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Janney, COE officials said it had revoked the district’s ability to pay bills -- effective immediately -- after an independent auditor found that it was virtually impossible to determine an accurate account on how the district spends its money.

Additionally, another auditing firm informed COE officials of the need to review the district’s internal controls. That firm’s review said Sweetwater was “high risk, failed five out of five categories, and does not meet requirements to be fiscally accountable.”

RELATED: Office of Education gives financial power over Sweetwater Union schools to advisor

The COE also said the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) was conducting an “extraordinary audit to determine if there is sufficient evidence that fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal practices have occurred. Upon completion, the final report will be presented to the School Board and made available to the public.”

In the meantime, COE officials are recommending the district and school board develop a “comprehensive fiscal recovery plan” to “resolve the current financial crisis.”

Late last summer, the Sweetwater Union High School District confirmed a $30 million budget shortfall. An independent audit later revealed the district was borrowing money faster than it could pay back.

TIMELINE: Sweetwater Union High School District's budget woes

The district is projected to borrow $93 million this fiscal year, and that is in addition to the $36 million they already owe.

In December, 300 teachers accepted early retirement to help balance the budget.

Last month, the school board announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was looking into its finances.