27 Aug Funding for DPS Food Program is at Risk (MI)August 27, 2010
By: Chastity Pratt DawseySource: Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Public Schools is in jeopardy of losing funding for its preschool food program for up to seven years after state officials found altered documents, failure to monitor facilities and claims for more funding than the district was entitled to receive.
The Michigan Department of Education determined DPS is "seriously deficient" in the administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, according to a July 26 letter from Carol Wolenberg, deputy state superintendent.
The program provided DPS with $603,366 last year for meals and snacks for preschool students.
MDE reviewed six DPS sites March 15-18 and April 19-22 and also reviewed last fall’s meal counts from 16 of 78 preschool sites. As a result, Wole nberg sent a letter to Robert Bobb, the DPS emergency financial manager, and Janet Tilsdale, the district’s interim executive director of food services, requiring DPS to submit a corrective action plan.
Specifically, MDE reported three major findings:
• Dates on training forms were altered, making it hard to determine if staff were trained on how to monitor the facilities for compliance with federal laws. And some staff were unaware of meal requirements.
• Dates and signatures on forms from in-house reviews were altered. • DPS will have to repay at least $36,480 because inadequate record keeping for meal counts and attendance for October through December 2009 led to DPS receiving more funding than it should have.
If DPS does not correct the deficiencies or fails any future reviews, "MDE will propose to terminate the district’s program," Wolenberg wrote.
Jennifer Mrozowski, a spokeswoman for DPS, said the findings concern a small part of DPS’ $32-million food service program.
"We worked with the state to develop a corrective action plan, which we submitted today," she said.
School board president Anthony Adams sent Bobb an Aug. 9 letter requesting a copy of the corrective action draft.
He referred to a DPS corrective discipline policy the school board approved in 2008, before Bobb’s appointment. It stipulates that employees who falsify school records, reports or payrolls are subject to suspension, discharge or prosecution.
"We believe the matter of the stated employee who falsified state and federal documents must be addressed as soon as po ssible as well as administrative deficiencies," Adams wrote.
MDE officials found problems at all sites visited. However, DPS self-reviews of 107 facilities found no deficiencies, which MDE said was unusual.