San Diego Unified School District has reached a settlement with the federal government over charges that the district misused more than $1.7 million in federal grant money. The dispute involved an Urban Systemic Initiatives grant, which targets math and science skills in urban school districts. The grant is funded by the National Science Foundation. The federal government accused the district of False Claims Act violations in neglecting to document costs, billing for “unallowable costs” and in miscalculating and overbilling the National Science Foundation for the grant. The school district denied wrongdoing.
The settlement requires the district to change its operations to eliminate the possibility of future overbilling. San Diego Unified must institute written procedures for compliance with federal grant rules and it must conduct yearly audits of National Science Foundation funding. The failure to remedy problems revealed by the audits may result in the suspension or termination of grants to the school district.
This is the second time this year that the federal government has investigated the district for misuse of federal grant money. Earlier, the U.S. Department of Education determined that the district had improperly used more than $3 million in funding to provide bonuses to employees leaving the district without first securing federal approval. The funding had been intended for low-income students, student nutrition and other uses. The consequences of the district’s mishandling of the funds have not been determined.
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