Christina School District Board of Education President Minnehan Has No Knowledge Of Audit

Within the past ten minutes I also received the below email from Christina Board of Education President Harrie Ellen Minnehan regarding the suspicion of an audit with the Delaware State Auditor’s office.  Once again, there is NO audit taking place based on the article I put up a few minutes ago, but there was DEFINITELY a phone call made to the State Auditor’s office by two board members.  This gets more interesting by the minute!

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt
Kevin,

I have just returned home within the past 20 minutes after being out all day which is why I did not respond to this email earlier, so your time ultimatum was missed.  (I cannot always retrieve Outlook /Christina email on my phone so I don’t bother with it.)

I have no information (of the real/authentic or of the dangerous rumor type) about an audit.  Have not heard anything at all about that and I assume if it were legitimate  we would have been apprised.

Harrie Ellen

State Auditor’s Office Confirms No Financial Or Investigate Audit On Christina School District

Freeman Williams sent another email to me regarding the “Christina Audit” question.  There are two standard audits that are performed for every school district in the state, but as Obi-Wan Kenobi so brilliantly said, “These are not the droids you’re looking for…”

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt

Kevin,

I have some additional information for you. The State Auditor’s Office, Kathleen Davies, the Chief Administrative Auditor, responded to the following question: Are there any open audits?
Her response was that there are two current Open Audits:
1.      State of Delaware Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – Christina School District as an Agency of the State is included in this audit.
2.      State of Delaware Fiscal Year Single Audit – Federal and Local Funds

She added that these noted are Statewide Audits that occur this time of year.

She also responded that there are no Investigations or Financial Audits involving the Christina School District.

Freeman

Freeman L  Williams, Ed. D.
Superintendent
Christina School District
600 N. Lombard St.
Wilmington, DE 19801
302-552-2661

Well, this definitely squashes an official investigation into Christina School District, but a call was made to the auditor’s office, which I’m being told is very similar to a recent comment made on here, and it did come from two board members.  The question is, what do the other five board members do about it?  While I can’t reveal the whodunit, I can say this will cause a lot of issues on the board.  If the district needed to be audited, it would have happened.  I don’t take issue with that.  Nor do I take issue with any citizen anonymously reporting to the State Auditor’s office.  What I do take issue with is two board members doing this, and not reporting it to the rest of the board, no matter what the result was.  It is not illegal, what this dynamic duo did, but it comes down to a matter of teamwork and trust.

Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams Responds To Question Of State Audit

Christina School District Superintendent Freeman Williams just sent an email to me in regards to my direct question of whether or not Christina is under investigation by the Delaware State Auditor.  Before I post his response, I have it on very good authority that the two board members did contact the Delaware DOE who in turn sent the two board members to the State Auditor’s office because any information the DOE gave the auditor’s office would be hearsay.  The two board members did proceed.

The email from Freeman Williams:

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt
  • WILLIAMS FREEMAN

An individual at the House Education Committee meeting on 6/17/15 did have direct knowledge of this information and was shocked when Kathleen Davies said no traditional school district was under investigation by the State Auditor’s office based on this knowledge.  It appears the State Auditor’s office didn’t feel the information supplied to them was enough to open an investigation.  If this was the case, than why are board members going to the State Auditor’s office with information like this?  What would they hope to gain?  The next board meeting at Christina will be VERY interesting!

DEBUNKED: Not Official Yet, But Christina School District May Be Under Investigation By State Auditor’s Office

UPDATED, 3:21pm, 7/30/15: Based on an email by Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams, Christina School District is not part of any open or official audit at this time.  Questions are being asked about how this whole information came about to begin with.

While this has not been officially released to the public, I have heard from very reliable sources that the Christina School District is under investigation by Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office.  This is what I was talking about yesterday with the two board members, because they handed the district in.  These two board members did NOT inform anyone else on the board of this decision.

I contacted Kathleen Davies with the State Auditor’s office yesterday, and she would neither confirm or deny the question.  She did state IF they were under investigation a report would be released to the public.  As well, I sent an email to Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams and Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan, but I have yet to receive a response as of earlier today, but I did inform them both I would be going public with this information as of 1:30pm today.

The exact nature of the investigation is not yet known, but rumors of rampant spending involving car allowances, cell phones and other similar types of spending have been circulating ever since the 2nd referendum in Christina was announced earlier this year.

One source stated this information was provided by the board members to the State Auditor’s office in mid June, prior to the House Education Committee meeting on June 17th.  But at the House Education Committee meeting on June 17th, Kathleen Davies with the State Auditor’s office publicly stated there were no investigations going on with traditional school districts.  This was during the discussion of State Rep. Kim Williams charter school audit bill, House Bill 186.  However, if the call to the State Auditor’s office from the board members took place 2-3 days prior, the investigation may not have been officially opened.

How Can Title I Funds Be Distributed In Delaware School Districts And Charters?

Since I’ve been posting articles the past couple days about Title I funding from the feds, I’ve received many questions about how these funds can be allocated.  There is no simple answer as the below document from the Delaware Department of Education will show.  This must be an accountant or auditor’s worst nightmare, trying to keep up with district budgets!

In addition, the formula was definitely changed in the past couple years based on this email from the DOE:

Low Socio-Economic Status (SES)

As many of you are aware, the USDA has made changes to the School Nutrition Programs. Most recently is the introduction of Community Eligibility.

In the past, the school nutrition program meal benefit eligibility forms have been the source data for low income determination.  As you may remember, in March 2013 we told you that we would be moving to the DHSS Alternative Poverty (SNAP, TANF or Medicaid) measure for low socio economic status for 2013-14.  Over the past year, we continued to get guidance from USDA and USED regarding these programs and application to other programs.

Based on this new information, the state will move to a standardized low socio-economic status measure. The new measure is Direct Certification or Direct Cert.  This measure includes SNAP or TANF and does not include Medicaid.  We strongly believe this is the purest measure of low socio economic status.  In addition, the sharing of student level data is allowable for specific purposes.  With Medicaid, there are potential issues of HIPPA.

The new low income indicator is defined to be:
A student is Low-SES if any one of the following two indicator is yes:
o  TANF (Public assistance)
o  SNAP (Food stamp)

For purposes of eSchool, the new indicator will be named: Low-Income.  This is to distinguish from Low-SES that is used for the past four years.  A separate data column in eSchool will be created for the new indicator.  It will be co-existence with LOW-SES for the past years so that historical low-SES data will not be interrupted.

The new indicator will APPLY TO 2013-2014 DATA AND BEYOND starting from Fall 2013 DCAS reporting and all federal and state reporting including EDEN and school profiles.  We may have instances where we will do a look-back with the Direct Certification data for trend purposes.

Districts are still able to use a different measure of poverty when distributing funds and providing services to their schools.  The DDOE will not be collecting free and reduced lunch price information in the future, unless legislatively mandated to do so.  If you do collect information through another means, you will be expected to secure those data appropriately. 

We know we have reports online and published that have a different methodologies for low SES.  Our plan is to highlight the change in methodology on these reports, and to be clear on any reports to you, which method of low SES we are using or had been used.

This email was sent to school leaders on May 30th, 2014…

2015 Title I Allocations For ALL Delaware Districts And Charters

Yesterday, I wrote an article about Capital School District’s $330,000 loss in Title I funding, but the actual amount they lost was a little bit higher.  The amount they lost, the highest loss in the state, was $338,093.00.  Which school district had the biggest gain?  Which charter gets the most, and which gets NO Title I funding?  Find out here:

Yes, Charter School of Wilmington gets NO Title I federal funds.  A public school in Wilmington!  After Capital, it looks like Smyrna, Lake Forest and Seaford took pretty big hits in Title I cuts.  But nothing compares to Capital, which lost three times the second highest loss.  It doesn’t look like opt-out will cause a district to lose federal funds, when a new formula will do it all by itself.  Last year, the Feds changed the Title I formula from basing the number of students who receive “free and reduced lunch” at their school to the number of students whose families get special services from the state which accounts for an overall loss of Title I funds for the state of $600,000.

The bulk of the losses are occurring in Kent and Sussex counties, while all of the New Castle County districts saw an increase.  Does this mean poverty is increasing in New Castle and decreasing in Kent and Sussex?