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Published in Print: June 12, 2002, as State Probes La. District On Overtime

State Probes La. District On Overtime

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A report by the Louisiana state auditor has raised questions about how a New Orleans school janitor could possibly have earned $85,144 in overtime in 2½ years. The janitor, Alphonse Davis, is the father of the superintendent of the New Orleans public school system.

State legislative Auditor Daniel G. Kyle stopped short of concluding in his May 23 report whether or by how much Mr. Davis was overpaid. He said it was impossible to tell because of missing time sheets. The report criticized the Orleans Parish school board for poor oversight, faulty overtime policies, and incomplete record- keeping.

The janitor said he began working the overtime in April of 1999, when a major renovation project began at George Washington Carver Senior High School, where he is head custodian. His son, Alphonse G. Davis, became superintendent of the 75,200-student district in July of that year, according to the audit.

From July 1999 to December 2001, Mr. Davis logged 4,132 hours of overtime work. He recorded 70 hours of overtime from April through June, at about six hours per week, the audit said. After his son became superintendent, the janitor reported an average of 32 hours of overtime per week, the audit said.

The auditor called the claims for overtime pay "questionable given the amount of hours paid per day, the length of time worked without time off, and his admission that he submitted inaccurate time sheets to the [school board]."

Discrepancies Conceded

Based on his account, the janitor would have had to have worked up to 22½ hours a day with long periods of time between days off, the audit noted. For one stretch of time, he reported working 140 days with just one day off.

At first, Mr. Davis said that he worked all of the hours recorded on his time sheets, the audit said. He blamed the renovation for his increased overtime. But later, he told the auditor that his time sheets did not always reflect the actual amounts of hours that he worked, the audit said.

In a response to the audit included in the report, Superintendent Davis wrote that he agreed with its recommendations to change the school system's overtime policies. All overtime must now be approved in advance, except in emergency cases, the response said. And employees' immediate supervisors should approve payroll sheets, it added.

Neither Superintendent Davis nor his father could be reached for comment.

Vol. 21, Issue 40, Page 15

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