Schools Misused Federal Funds: Report

Thousands of dollars intended for disadvantaged students spent on other supplies

By Lauren Steussy
|  Tuesday, Jul 5, 2011  |  Updated 8:51 AM PDT
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Schools Misused Federal Funds: Report

Federal funds intended to close the achievement gap in San Diego schools were instead used to buy medical supplies, athletic equipment and custodial supplies, according to a voiceofsandiego.org investigation.

The federal government allocated $46 million to the schools to help disadvantaged students.

The VOSD review of school expenditures found that the school used $3,500 in thermometers, carpet cleaner and other items were purchased despite San Diego Unified’s strict guidelines for how to spend these federal funds.

"It takes away from the primary purpose of Title I — to have a direct impact on student achievement," Zollie Stevenson Jr., who used to oversee the federal funds at the U.S. Department of Education, told VOSD. "Other local funds are supposed to pay for those things."

In response to the VOSD report, principals said that the misuse of funds was a result of clerical errors, and that they will switch the expenses to the appropriate account.

Among the purchases, Point Loma High spent over $800 on exercise supplies – including the workout DVD, “Dancing With the Stars: Latino Cardio Dance.”

Purchases also included supplies for nurses and custodians.

Some educators say that the items bought with the funds weren’t necessarily a detriment to needy students.

Ana Shapiro, a principal at Lincoln High told VOSD that the $500 in federal funds used to employ a steel drum band at school encouraged students to attend class. The high school had a perfect attendance record this year.

Read the full story on VOSD’s education blog.

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