Auditor general John Doyle is releasing his annual summary report this week, which contains five different projects - including an examination of the New Westminster school district's controversial business company, which overseas a school in China.
Doyle's report found that former school trustee Brent Atkinson was in a conflict of interest when he served as a trustee and as a board director and chief executive officer of the district's business company.
Doyle's examination of the business company was released last February by the New Westminster school district.
In Doyle's 10-page report, submitted to the district on Jan. 13, the auditor-general
noted Atkinson, in his dual role, "may have had an undeclared indirect pecuniary interest" because he was in violation of a section of the School Act, which notes that, "a trustee has an indirect pecuniary interest in any matter in which the board is concerned if the trustee is a shareholder in or a director or senior officer of a corporation that does not offer its securities to the public."
In his report, Doyle wrote that Atkinson voted on business-company related matters at school board meetings, including those related to loans for the business company.
Doyle also noted that Atkinson voted against tabling a motion related to deferring an advance of funds to the business company until after legal advice on whether he was in a conflict of interest was obtained.
When Doyle's report was released earlier this year, Atkinson told The Record that he disagreed with Doyle's conclusions.
"In his opinion, I had an indirect pecuniary interest, but that's not how I see it. I abided by his direction because he is the auditor general, but this is no longer applicable because I'm no longer a trustee," Atkinson said at the time.
Atkinson didn't seek re-election in 2011, after 31 years as a trustee. He continues to run the school district's business company, which has become profitable in recent years. Last year, the company brought in a net profit of $363,000 for the district.
In other news related to the auditor general, the New Westminster school district is in such financial dire straits that the board of education unanimously passed a motion recently to ask the auditor general to come in and review the district's books. The district has an almost $2.8-million deficit from last year and faces a $2.2-million deficit if it doesn't start making spending cuts this year.
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