Thursday, July 01, 2010

School Budget Nearly Fails on Federal Funds Queasiness

This is a poisonous issue for schools. Many employees have been fired for insisting that the law be followed. For example, Mary Anne Weegar in Sweetwater Unified School District, and Pamela Settlegood in Oregon. I have learned through personal experience with Chula Vista Elementary School District and San Diego County Office of Education that school officials in San Diego and elsewhere tend to believe they are above the law whenever the law seems inconvenient. Rather than follow the law, they pay millions to lawyers to defend illegal actions. It's amazing that schools are so resistant to reform that they are able to rationalize flat-out misuse of funds. We need school officials with imagination, courage and ethics. Instead, almost certainly the board and lawyer Mark Bresee will get clean away with ignoring the law. Courts tend to back up public officials when they violate the law. For example, a jury found that Sweetwater USD should pay Mary Anne Weegar over $600,000 but the court of appeal reduced the amount to $5000. So why should school officials worry? They can do whatever they want, and just fire the whistleblowers.
School Budget Nearly Fails on Federal Funds Queasiness
Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego
Jun 30, 2010

The San Diego Unified board nearly didn't pass its budget last night because three board members said they were uneasy with the choices they made -- including the choice to use federal funding for disadvantaged students to pay for counselors and graduation coaches at its poorer schools.

Critics and a state official say the move appears to be illegal because schools are supposed to provide equal services to all schools with their basic funding. The special federal money is supposed to pay for the extra needs of poor children, not pay for things the district would foot the bill for anyway...

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