Dallas ISD continues history of grant money mismanagement

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 11:34 PM

DALLAS — Jordan Roberts, the director of Dallas ISD's Grants Compliance office, admitted to district investigators that neither he nor his staff review specific receipts on how DISD spends grant money, according to an internal investigation.

The report centers around the principal at Roosevelt High School, Dr. Leicha Shaver. News 8 first reported on the district's investigation into her activities last Friday.

Among the accusations in the Office of Professional Responsibility report, DISD investigators allege she misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Texas Title I funds on employee stipends and even renting a "cash grab" machine for students, among other things.

Dallas ISD told News 8 that Dr. Shaver remains on the job at Roosevelt. On Friday, Shaver refused to discuss the allegations with News 8. Her attorney has not returned a message left with his assistant.

The Texas Education Agency said it is reviewing the allegations against Shaver.

Roosevelt received $5.2 million in Title I funds in an effort to improve its "academically unacceptable" standing.

"Throwing more money at DISD — and especially some of the lowest-performing schools — might not be the best solution," said school district watchdog Allen Gwinn. "If you're not spending the money correctly in the first place, you're just going to have more to misspend."

When the state legislature cut education funding two years ago, grants helped make up some of the financial loss to classrooms.

But Dallas ISD has had a history of mismanaging grant money.

In February 2012, the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency blasted DISD for failing to comply with a grant for tutoring called Supplemental Education Services.

A month later, the district intended to use grant funds to take fifth grade boys to see the movie "Red Tails." After News 8 broke that story, DISD was forced to pay for the $57,000 in tickets from its own account.

In 2010, the head of the district's Adult Basic Education grant was accused of misspending $30,000.

A former insider said Dallas ISD had to pay back more than $300,000 in another grant a few years ago from the Centers for Disease Control.

It is uncertain how widespread any grant mismanagement problem is, nor is the total amount of money involved clear.

How the district intends to change its handling of grant money — if at all — isn't a question Dallas ISD could immediately answer.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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