Wednesday, June 2, 2010

San Diego Grand jury: School money misspent


Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.

The San Diego County grand jury has called for heightened oversight and fraud detection in the city school district after uncovering misuse of $100,000 in student funds at campuses and lackluster monitoring of charter schools.

Released on Wednesday, the grand jury report recommends improvements in several functions of the San Diego Unified School District.

Findings include abuse of Associated Student Body funds and misuse of district money to inferior charter school monitoring. It also found schools charged illegal student fees.

District officials are reviewing the report and have until the end of August to respond.

“The district was aware of some of the findings and has already taken steps to make improvements,” said district spokeswoman Linda Zintz.

San Diego Unified is expected to release a formal response to the report later Wednesday.

The investigation was prompted, in part, by complaints that staff at the School of Creative and Performing Arts illegally used more than $65,000 in student funds to pay for equipment and instructional supplies in 2006. The magnet school also used ASB money to pay for a staff Christmas party, staff mugs, polo shirts and other unauthorized expenses in 2008. Although the school agreed to refund the money, it failed to fully reimburse the funds.

The grand jury based some of its findings on internal audits conducted by San Diego Unified.

The report recommends the district train staff on how to use ASB money and hire more staff to work in its auditing department.

The report also suggests that the district develop a closer watch of its 37 charter schools. Specifically, the report calls for annual audits of finances and records at charters. The grand jury also suggests that the district promote its fraud hotline to charter school employees, students and teachers.

The grand jury makes note of illegal student fees charged for decades to pay for everything from band instruments to cheerleading uniforms. The district has implemented a new policy prohibiting schools from charging students for supplies or fees needed for instructional programs or activities that occur during the school day.

1 comment:

Kicks the Hornet's Nest said...

Illegal fees such as mandatory requirement for students to purchase school logo p.e. clothes from the school store hurts local businesses. Parent tax-exempt groups are unwittingly involved in illegal fundraising practices trying to raise monies for activities. Los Angeles Unified sued teachers to recoup overpayments of salaries. San Diego Unified failed to collect overpayments.Only 2 teachers protested that the Christmas Party at El Toritos with the SCPA kids' ASB money was wrong. The rest partied. Another area that is out of control is paying substitute teachers while teachers chaperone students on trips to D.C. and get free trips from the travel agency.
This practice is siphoning scarce funds. Instead of abiding by the law, administrators are coming up with creative methods to hide illegal fees.It's far worse than the San Diego County Grand Jury report sets out.