The Ontario government is probing the "financial management" of the Toronto District School Board after concerns were raised by the board’s education director and audit committee.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said the period being investigated dates back to the school board’s previous administration when it was led by former director Chris Spence. Spence resigned earlier this year amid a plagiarism scandal.

"There was a range of what I would call financial management issues," Sandals told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

She said the concerns were raised by the TDSB’s current director Donna Quan and the chair of the audit committee.

"The past few weeks, a number of reports have come forth to me in terms of irregularities of our audit and business process," Quan said.

"We must ensure that the business practices are followed, that the proper channels of procurement are followed, that the accountability and the reporting of these funds are public and transparent."

In a statement released by the education minister on Wednesday, some of the financial management practices being investigated include:

  • The availability of reports to the audit committee
  • Financial reporting to the Ministry of Education that may not have been approved by the chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Salary increases for staff that may not be in line with the Broader Public Sector compensation
  • Expenses paid without proper review by the CFO

Quan also asked the Ontario government to look into the board’s Focus on Youth program, which provides "high quality" programs for at-risk-youth in Toronto.

When asked about the program, Sandals said the province will wait to see the results from the financial audit before taking any action, however there was “no suggestion” that the program will be taken away from the TDSB.

Sandals said the audit is being conducted by the accounting firm Ernst & Young. A report is expected in the fall.

Spence resigned in January after admitting to plagiarising portions of an op-ed piece that was printed in the Toronto Star. In his resignation letter, Spence said he was leaving his post with "great sadness."

"I have come to this decision after a great deal of reflection, and no small amount of consultation with family, friends and colleagues," Spence wrote. "I do so with a profoundly heavy heart."

Sandals said the forensic audit has “nothing to with a particular individual” but will look at the financial management practices of the organization.

She said that the ministry is taking the financial management issues raised by the school board “seriously” but stressed that “at this point, none of the concerns have been confirmed.”

"That’s the purpose of (the audit)."

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Naomi Parness