Mason City School District officials requested the state redact or completely leave out the names of employees who received some of the $2.2 million in improper disbursements under former Superintendent Anita Micich.
The Dec. 28, 2018 report from the Iowa State Auditor's Office identified about 44 Mason City employees received more than $1,000 in "improper salary and benefits," and 27 were given more than $10,000.
Anyone who received any amount of "improper salary" was listed in the final report, even if the total was less than $10.
Annette Campbell and Jennifer Campbell, two of the auditors who worked the case along with Senior Auditor Ryan T. Jelsma, insisted that their investigative team never even considered leaving names out of the final report.
"Our findings are our findings, so for transparency and accountability any variance is included in the report," Jennifer Campbell said.
During their time working with the state auditor's office (19 and 17 years respectively), Annette and Jennifer have nearly a combined 500 investigations looking into cities, county offices, community school districts, landfills and state agencies.
Their involvement with the Mason City School District audit, which looked at a nine-year period, kickstarted in July 2017 as they were winding down a separate and more targeted audit of the district.
According to Jennifer Campbell, as her and Annette were concluding that investigation, a board member raised concerns to them in an exit interview about issues "above and beyond what was in the re-audit."
That, coupled with concerns about potential misuse of electronic signatures and questions regarding board meeting minutes, was enough to broaden the scope of the investigation from the initial 2015-2017 range.
Mason City School Board President Jodi Draper took issue with the fastidiousness of the broader audit.
According to Draper, who encouraged the investigation, the school board asked special investigators to reconsider "including the names of employees who had no decision-making power, influence or authority in determining their pay."
Once the investigation started, Annette Campbell and Jennifer Campbell looked at payrolls for some 74 individuals in the Mason City School District and sifted through what they both agreed was an "innumerable" amount of documents.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman's office worked closely with personnel in the Mason City School District office, which Jennifer Campbell says made the lengthy process "easier." They didn't file mountains of formal requests to gather information; it was largely just handed over.