The AJC has a news story on this today, but here is the memo from Cheryl L.H. Atkinson to DeKalb school employees alerting them that a state review of Title I found an ineligible program being funded so the district has to return the money.
The state report says most of the money — $885,000 — went to Communities in Schools, an Arlington, Va.-based dropout prevention organization hired to improve performance at 15 DeKalb schools.
Communities in Schools had been providing the service since 2008, but it wasn’t until the state conducted its random review that it discovered spending on uncovered costs, such as mentoring students who’d been suspended.
Please note that there is nothing nefarious alleged. Speaking of alleged, a rumor flew from one end of the county to the other this weekend that Atkinson had resigned to take a job in Texas. Not true.
The money came from the federal Title 1 program, which subsidizes schools with concentrations of students from low-income households. The Georgia Department of Education found the money was spent on purposes that don’t fall under Title 1.
“We’re not saying they weren’t good things for students,” said Margo DeLaune, who oversaw the state review, which was first obtained by Channel 2 Action News. “We’re not saying anything was illegal. We’re just saying there were some items that were not Title 1 allowable.”
Here is the official memo:
From: Dr. Cheryl L.H. Atkinson, Superintendent
Subject: Title I Audit Finds DCSD Must Repay Funds
Date: 5 November 2012
In March 2012, the Georgia Department of Education conducted its annual Cross-Functional Monitoring of the Title I Part A Program in DeKalb. Each year, they take a random sampling of expenditures to audit Title I funds. This year, they selected as one of their random samplings the Communities In Schools (CIS) contract. The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has been under a contract with CIS since 2008 similar to other metro districts.
This year, they deemed that the CIS services provided in the contract did not qualify as an allowable activity. As a result, the district will be required to repay $885,000 from the general fund to resolve the matter. Since the expenditure had not been cited in the past four years, DCSD had no indication it was unallowable. The Title I administration is undergoing restructuring this year to ensure more streamlined accountability going forward.
In addition, there is $25,000 of additional expenditures related to unallowable costs for Title I activities that are also required to be repaid. As a result, the total amount of $910,000 must be repaid from the general fund budget. The DCSD is working within the Finance department to determine how the general fund budget must be modified since this repayment expenditure was not planned for within this year’s budget.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog