/Education chief fires three after federal funds are misspent

Education chief fires three after federal funds are misspent

Three employees of the state Department of Education were fired, and programs that are funded in part by federal dollars in Mississippi have been cut or eliminated. This was stated Thursday by Dr. Carey Wright, the State Education Superintendent. At a press conference, Wright stated that the firing was caused by a $19.1million deficit in the state’s federal Title IV program. Wright stated that federal program officials from the state used federal Title I funds in an attempt to cover the deficit. Federal law prohibits this. Three employees were fired as a result. Three employees were fired by the State Education. Officials did not release their names as it was a personnel matter. Wright stated that deficits in the Office of Federal Programs began in April and continued until July. Program officials awarded 46 new grants last fiscal year to 21st Century Community Learning Centers, but did not account for 65 grantees who were continuing from previous years. Wright stated that $14.1 million was allocated to the program for the after-school program during the 2015-2016 school years. Wright stated that after they realized the deficit, federal program officials from the state misappropriated federal funds to make up the gap. She stated that the office continued to use Title I money for reimbursements to school districts for after-school programs that were required to be funded with Title IV federal funds. “It is not allowed expense for Title I and that was in direct contravention of all federal program requirements around Title I dollars.” Gov. Phil Bryant made the following statement in writing. “The State Board of Education should immediately remedy this.” Title I funds are used to pay for expenses associated with the regular school day in school districts that have high levels of students from low-income families. Federal Title IV money funds the after-school programs or 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These centers provide academic opportunities after school for students in low-performing and high-poverty schools. Last year, the after school programs were used by approximately 29,000 students in the state. Title I and Title IV are sections of the federal Elementary School Act, which provide federal financial assistance to specific educational needs. After school programs are funded by federal funds. School districts can apply to the state for reimbursement. According to a press release by the education department, “While funds were taken both from Title I and 21st Century accounting sources, the MDE anticipates that there will be no impact on Title I payments to districts.” Due to the deficit, no new grants for this school year will be issued. Other grants may also have to be reduced or eliminated completely. Wright stated that decisions will need to be made about which grants should be continued and which ones to be cut in funding. This will depend on the available funds, the number of affected children, and U.S. Department of Education guidance. Officials from the State Education Department provided this list of 21st Century programs sites for the 2015-16 schoolyear. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think. Republish this Story