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State wants federal intervention in school funds

ATLANTA — In a meeting with the state Board of Education Monday, Dougherty County School Board members learned that Georgia education officials want the federal government to intervene in the system’s Title 1 programs.

The suggestion came after a scolding from the state board on how the school system has managed $6 million in Title 1 funds.

The Georgia Board of Education’s Audit Committee held a called meeting with a majority of the Dougherty County School Board on Monday to express its concerns over the district’s management of federal program funds. The DOE has been heavily involved with the system since sending a complaint investigation team to Albany in May, and just last month placed the District at “high risk” status.

“This is being taken as a very serious matter by us, and we hope it is taken seriously by you,” Audit Committee Chairman Larry Winter told the DCSS board members. “There is no doubt that this is an unusual meeting. We are concerned that our communications seem not to have been reaching the school board. It is for that reason we are having this face-to-face meeting today.”

All current DSCC board members made the trip except Milton Griffin and Anita Williams-Brown. In addition, new board members-elect Lane Price and Robert Youngblood were in attendance, as was system Supertintendent Joshua Murfree, system Attorney Tommy Coleman and Executive Finance Director Kenneth Dyer.

“This was an honest, frank dialogue; we aren’t trying to punish this board,” Winter said after the meeting. “We meant to send a message, and I think we did that. We want to empower them and not let them become victims.”

Outgoing DCSS board member David Maschke said state officials had given the Dougherty board the direction it needs to deal with the issues that its members face.

“I hate to leave the board at this time with this work coming up,” Maschke said. “I’m guardedly optimistic that enough has occurred that the board of education now understands the seriousness of this problem. All of them are going to have to work together to right this ship.”

DCSS Board Chairman James Bush said the appearance of State School Superintendent John Barge at Monday’s meeting underscored its signifiance.

“This was a very informative meeting,” Bush said. “The superintendent (Barge) was concerned that we weren’t being informed properly. Overall, I thought it was a good meeting, and I’m convinced the people up here really want to see us succeed.”

Lack of internal controls, delays in implementing corrective action plans and failure to follow local board policies have led the state to put a hold on as much as $15 million in federal funding. The state DOE sent a letter to the U.S. Inspector General’s office Nov. 30 requesting help regarding the DCSS.

“I thought the meeting was direct, serious and there was no unexpected news except for the IG letter,” Winter said. “Everything else they were aware of, or should have been.”

Winter’s comments came with a warning, though.

“This is the gift that keeps on giving,” he said. “You will probably be under scrutiny for the next five years. You are going to grow accustomed to seeing auditors.”

Comments

waltspecht 2 years ago

Why was Murfree there? He wasn't given an invitation to the meeting. Who is paying his travel expenses to a meeting he wasn't supposed to attend in the first place? I think if the State Board had wanted him there, they would have invited him. They did not!

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

He obviously enjoys driving his Jag to Hot-Lanta. He does it every chance he gets. I wonder did he make any other stops before returning to All Benny Gee Ayy?

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Bulldawg 2 years ago

In the words of Homer Simpson... DOH.

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B4it 2 years ago

Thiese are some very serious penalties. However, the School Board has been told about the community concerns for not following policies for he past few years - starting with the hiring of Murfree. There were 4 on the board who did not care and did not listen to these repeated community concerns. Two of these four were the same ones who did not bother to go to Atlanta for this meeting. In the corporate world, these two and the other two would be fired immediately for being irresponsible, for lack of proper oversight of stated policies, and for being negligent in holding administrators accountable. It is time for this community to be the "corporate world" and fire Riggens, June Bug Griiffin, and James Bush. Fortunately, Williams-Brown has already been voted out.

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cdeiter1 2 years ago

Finally!!! Someone speaks, maybe they will listen,,i doubt it. Give them what they deserve.

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dingleberry 2 years ago

I don't think Larry Winter realizes the BOE gets virtually nothing from the DCSS, having to submit information requests that are continually ignored by the DCSS. Perhaps the BOE is not forceful enough but regardless, the DCSS marches to its own band.

I don't know why the state wants the feds to come into the picture from an audit standpoint on a continuing basis. The state has the authority do do much more than it seem willing to do. Anyway, what is the U.S. Inspector General's office. Don't know that one.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years ago

They asked the IG in because this is all federal money and reflects badly on the Georgia Department of Education.

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whattheheck 2 years ago

Got your answer from WALB site--Inspector General of Dept of Education.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

IS DIRECTOR GRAPER STILL DRAWING A FREAKING PAY CHECK FROM DCSS?? IF SO, WHY??????????????

And please don't respond "Well nobody wrote down on 3x5 cards every thing I could and could not do so I didn't have to think or use my own education or training or simply reading and following Federal Guidelines" while drawing 100 G's a year.

P.S.: State of Georgia, please don't pass the buck to the Feds. They don't give a Flying Frankfurter what Dougherty County School System does with the money the Feds dole out. I guarantee you that!!

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

GRAPER,BETTY WATKINS FEDERAL PROGRAMS DIR Salary: $104,863.44 Travel: $1,606.29 DOUGHERTY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUC 2011

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

All DSCC board members made the trip except for Milton Griffin and Anita Williams-Brown.

Can we all get a clue which DCSS Board members really care about the chillrens and doing their job with excellence? I'd like to think so but I must say I expect several well-known apologists to come out of the woodwork to attack anyone who criticizes these two clowns who had more pressing engagements.

Here is where Kenneth Dyer proves what he is made of.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

I hope Stanford prepared Mr. Dyer for this "opportunity". He seems like a serious, studious, and capable individual. Now it's time for him to decide if he's got integrity and backbone and the willingness to do what's right and not just what he's told, nor what is expedient.

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FryarTuk 2 years ago

I had much rather the State help than the Federal. The Feds are a bunch of pencil pushers who are politically oriented. They could care less about ABY students. Look for the same BS that we got when Clinton's Education Dpt did not want to argue pre-school corruption. It probably won't be any better. The only way it could get worse would be if Judge Louis Sands was involved.

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whattheheck 2 years ago

The Government Accountability Office, an agency of Congress, could do it right.

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FryarTuk 2 years ago

Is GAO the federal agency involved here? I don,t think so.

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whattheheck 2 years ago

No but it should be since it is not political and pushes few pencils.

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Roundman 2 years ago

WHY is #34 still there?. Board Members - have some gonads & backbone - send him home-change the locks-whatever it takes to keep him away. He should be with the Barnam & Bailey Circus as the biggest clown in the USA!!. Look at that smirk & mug & bow-tie. It's Shame - Shame - Shame

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whattheheck 2 years ago

What is needed is an operational audit or a compliance audit. The state auditors always make a financial audit. As we have seen historically, nothing is ever identified as a problem although there is plenty to find. Look at the state auditor's reports on any school system and the same "no problems" are reported. If the proper local audit were done, we should not have the long-standing problems we are seeing in DCSS.

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Amazed2 2 years ago

Junebug must have been cooking fish on that day. Not sure where Velvet might have been unless she was helping Junebug. Amazing everybody made the trip but the two board members that wanted to keep Murfree on the job.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

It's the "No Comment.....No Snitch" mentality that seems to pervade them and all their homeez.

Perhaps AW-B was working on the finishing touches of a Federal Grant Money request to benefit the "less fortunate"........the less-fortunate starting with her Lexus self.

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waltspecht 2 years ago

This is the ideal place for a Forensic Accountant, bounty paid. They receive a nice paycheck, plus a certain percentage of discovered funds manipulation. Not recovered funds. They only work four years back due to the statute of limitations I believe. The New York City Sanitation Workers Union got busted by such a group many years ago, and the recovery was in the Millions. If my memory serves me correctly, one such group is lead by a Rabbi, and has been extremely successful. Wonder if there is enough money here to entice folks like that to take a look?

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Terry.Lewis 2 years ago

Walt, the difference here is these are federal funds. The IG and GAO will get involved now.

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saveourcity 2 years ago

There can be no clearer indication that Dr Graper needs to be fired, at once!

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