ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Education, expressing concerns with the Dougherty County School System's implementation of Federal Title I, Part A programs, on Tuesday placed the district on "High Risk" status.
In a letter to DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree, state Department of education Deputy Superintendent Avis King wrote that it was "the decision of the GaDOE to place the District on High Risk status. This decision is based on the District's unsatisfactory performance, management standards that do not meet 34 CFR requirements, not being sufficiently organized to implement Federal Program grant review requirements and the lack of timely District responses to recent GaDOE Federal programs review concerns."
Federal regulation 34 CFR section 80.12 states that a subgrantee may be considered High Risk if an awarding agency determines that a subgrantee:
• Has a history of unsatisfactory performance;
• Is not financially stable;
• Has a management system that does not meet the management standards in this part;
• Has not conformed to terms and conditions of previous awards;
• And/or is otherwise not responsible; and if the awarding agency determines that an award will be made, special conditions and/or restrictions shall correspond to the high risk condition and shall be included in the reward.
The state launched its probe into questionable Title I expenditures by the Dougherty School District on May 24 and found that "programmatic issues surrounding" the program resulted in the department questioning substantial costs in two different fiscal years.
The state questioned $167,025 in unallowable expenditures in FY 2011 and $126,856 in FY 2012.
The Georgia DOE has identified problems concerning the financial management and program implementation, including lack of internal controls in expenditure of federal funds; personnel and consultant expenditures; problems with contracts, procurement and monitoring, and inadequate policies and procedure for various fiscal processes.
In addition, the state cited unsatisfactory performance in implementing School Improvement requirements at Dougherty Comprehensive High School, including hiring a permanent principal and hiring teachers; SIG (School Improvement Grants), and failure to implement the School Food and Nutrition (SFN) with fidelity, among other problems.
As a result, the state has placed the system's FY 2013 funds on a reimbursement basis. This means the DCSS may not draw any portion of its FY 2013 Title I Part A allocation until the state department has reviewed and approved all purchase orders, receipts and other documentation for reimbursement.
Other federal programs at the Georgia Department of Education may also decide to place the DCSS on a reimbursement basis.
In addition, the state may also require the District to hire a certified public accountant of the state DOE's choosing to assist with the monitoring and validation process related to federal funds.
The Georgia DOE has given DCSS 20 days to submit, in writing, a request for reconsideration of the system's high-risk status.