ALBANY, Ga. — The State Department of Education has sent a letter to the Dougherty County School System demanding reclassification or reimbursement of $134,626 in disallowed Title I expenditures.
It also requires the district to hire two people designated by the DOE to monitor Title I Programs and free and reduced meal applications.
The Albany Herald obtained a copy of the 16-page letter Friday. State officials say the corrective action they outlined must be completed by Sept. 28. The unallowable Title I expenditures must be reclassified from Title I to another non-federal account or be repaid to the state, the letter says.
The DOE’s School Improvement Division met with DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree on Aug. 3 to discuss the Dougherty County School District Effectiveness Plan. The meeting centered on corrective actions that the DCSS will be required to put into place for the 2012-13 school year
An Aug. 24 letter from DOE Deputy Superintendent Alvis King to Murfree requires the system to institute a three-part “District Effectiveness Plan” prescribed by the state and gives the system a deadline of Sept. 28 in which to comply. At stake is more than $11 million in federal funding for the district.
The requirements include:
n A plan to provide support for the students who were impacted by the test tampering of the State’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). According to the DOE, the plan should outline how the district will work with affected schools and students to ensure ethical procedures are not violated in the future. The department will provide onsite support through professional learning for the district and school leadership.
n A plan to ensure the appropriate use of Title I, Part A funds and Title I School Improvement 1003(a) (SIG Grant) funds. Outstanding corrective actions on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget that concluded June 30 must be corrected prior to the approval of FY 2013 Title I budgets. Of the $134,000 the state is seeking, $109,000 is the result of a $91,000 consultant contract to Darrell Sabbs and Associates and an $18,000 contract to motivational speaker Joseph Washington. Dabbs last month refunded the DCSS $6,000.
The state will also require the DCSS to hire an education department-designated individual to monitor the implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) free and reduced-priced meal (FRM) program application process. In addition the state will also require that the system hire an individual designated by the state department to assist the DCSS with implementation of the District’s Title I, Part A program to ensure federal compliance.
The state uses FRM numbers to distribute Title I monies to districts throughout the state, and in May expressed concern about the accuracy of the numbers it was getting from the DCSS. In FY12 82.2 percent of the system’s 16,000-plus students qualified for free or reduced meals.
The indictments of former Morningside principal Gloria Baker and School Board member Velvet Riggins on school lunch application fraud charges attracted the attention of the education department and was the trigger for the state’s probe of FRM numbers.
n A plan for the review of policies, procedures and practices related to the Individual With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The review will include policies and procedures that may influence disproportionality issues identified with students and disabilities. The five areas of focus will include the identification process, services and support, student progress, parent engagement and college and career readiness.
The collaborative effort between the DOE support team and the DCSS will utilize a team to monitor the implementation of the District Effectiveness plan utilizing a 45- to 60-day short-term action plan which will outline the actions with supporting artifacts and evidence that demonstrate compliance and quality implementation.
Authorities are also looking into federal ERate money, which last year was a $1.2 million grant to help provide wireless access and other technology services to poverty stricken areas. ERate money is also based on a district’s FRM numbers.