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Tornillo ISD audit finds hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for

By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas An audit revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for in the Tornillo Independent School District.

The in-depth audit took a look at the district's finances from 2006 to 2011, when former Superintendent Paul Vranish was at the helm.

Auditors were originally hired to look into disbursements from the district's general fund, but they found something unexpected.

A separate bank account in Fabens established by Vranish had money used for district travel, equipment and other expenses.

"I was flabbergasted. It is unbelievable the amount of money that is unsubstantiated," said board President Javier Escalante. "I don't know if it's legal, if it's authorized; I have no idea. But I'm going to pursue it."

According to the audit, auditors found that since 2008, more than $500,000 was paid out of that account and around $315,000 was unsubstantiated. About $246,000 went back to Vranish and his wife, Marla Vranish a former district employee.

"There's no invoices where that money went to. There's no authorization to spend it or approve it," Escalante said.

Since 2006, about $480,000 in the district's general funds went back to Vranish with more than $109,000 unsubstantiated.

"We are going to report to (the Texas Education Agency) on the findings, the attorney general's office, news media of course, and then we're going to contact law enforcement agencies in the area," Escalante said.

As KFOX14 previously reported, Vranish was officially put on leave last November and his resignation was accepted a month later, when TEA first discovered questionable reimbursements from the district to him and his wife.

"This was one of the sanctions that the TEA put on us and this is the last one that we were waiting for," Escalante said.

The audit also shows several pieces of technological equipment left unaccounted for that was purchased with the district's money and sent directly to Vranish's home.

Trustees said they plan on taking a closer look at the audit.



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