Roland Calls for Probe of Missing Schools Inventory

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland is calling for a special meeting of the Shelby County Commission this month to talk with Shelby County Schools officials about the recent external audit of the school system that couldn’t account for $48.4 million in school system property and equipment.


The results of the summer’s ProBar Associates audit released this week prompted Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson to call for further investigation to determine if the 54,000 or so pieces of equipment and other inventory items were misplaced, stolen or some combination of the two. Hopson also called Tuesday, Dec. 3, for an overhaul and update of the school system’s inventory practices and is seeking help from executives at two Memphis-based corporate giants – AutoZone Inc. and FedEx Corp.

The audit began as Hopson became the superintendent and just before the start of the merger of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools, which took effect in August.

The transition may account for some of the missing inventory. But Hopson said Tuesday the problem is likely a combination of reasons, including some amount of theft and lax record-keeping and controls.

Hopson set a deadline of 30 days for the school system’s audit staff and the external firm of Watkins Uiberall to make a set of recommendations on new inventory procedures.

Roland sought the special commission meeting in a Tuesday, Dec. 3, letter to commission chairman James Harvey.

“As the funding arm of the school system, we deserve answers to what is going on with assets purchased with taxpayers’ revenues that we entrusted to Shelby County Schools to educate our children,” Roland wrote.

Such a meeting would involve commissioners potentially asking questions of one of their own. Commissioner Melvin Burgess is the school district’s internal auditor.

Roland also sent a letter to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich Tuesday to request that her office investigate the results of the audit.