Orting School District employee bought laptops, hoverboards with public funds

An investigation by state auditors found an Orting School District IT employee improperly used district funds to buy hoverboards, gaming devices and laptops.

The employee took home a total of more than $4,100 worth of devices, the Office of the Washington State Auditor concluded.

The IT administrator, Jason Rudolph, used a district credit card to purchase a router, wireless headphones, two hoverboards and laptops from 2016 to 2018, according to a separate, private investigation paid for by the school district.

Additional school district property was found in use at Rudolph’s home, like an Apple TV console, a projector, an iPad and several iPhones, according to detailed documents obtained by The Puyallup Herald.

“OSD records reflect that there were nine cell phones turned in for various reasons that could not be located,” the internal investigation concluded.

When an employee turned in an iPhone, it would be “sitting there not being used,” Rudolph told the private investigator.

The laptops, an Apple TV console, iPhones, and hoverboards were given to family members as gifts, the internal investigation found. Rudolph told the investigator that he purchased a hoverboard for himself and his staff to get around campus more easily, but none of the staff interviewed saw IT employees riding one.

Rudolph, whose base pay was about $82,000 during the 2017-18 school year, resigned in February after Superintendent Marci Shepard emailed stating she would recommend his termination to the board the following week. No police report was filed by the school district.

The State Auditor’s Office said the district did not adequately segregate duties, leaving Rudolph to purchase, receive and track IT devices without oversight. The department did not conduct annual inventory nor were new purchases entered into an inventory system.

“The district has strengthened the internal controls over small and attractive assets (including technology equipment) to ensure adequate oversight and monitoring to safeguard public resources and compliance with district policies,” Shepard said in a statement to The Herald.

Attempts to reach Rudolph were unsuccessful.

He returned a laptop that was not labeled as missing, two phones, a hoverboard, headphones, an external hard drive, some cables and flash drives.

The private investigation cost the district $4,108, according to the state auditors.

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.