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REVISED after print

MCISDlogo_TNEven while the Mission school board is grappling with a projected $8 million budget shortfall, the TEA (Texas Education Agency) hit the school district with more financial troubles last week, demanding the district refund $362,153 in migrant funds.

In a demand letter to Mission Consolidated Independent School District, dated April 4, TEA ordered the district to refund the money or request a hearing within 30 days. See TEA Letter

MCISD Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Lucio Mendoza told the board Wednesday that a TEA preliminary audit report of the Migrant Education Grants for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 federal grant years found questionable costs of $834,062. After the district furnished additional documentation, the TEA final audit still shows $362,153 in questionable expenditures.

TEA: “Mission CISD failed to comply with laws, regulations and grant requirements.”

The most recent letter from TEA states that the questioned costs illustrate the degree to which Mission CISD failed to comply with laws, regulations and grant requirements and to maintain proper internal control over the federal program. TEA has disallowed those costs and asked the district to return the funds to TEA within 30 days. The letter further states that TEA will withhold further cash payments to Mission CISD’s grant awards for the migrant program until the refund is submitted.

The refund must be made using state and local funds. Federal funds cannot be used to refund the costs questioned. The action does allow the district to request a hearing within 30 days concerning the enforcement action.

Mendoza said the major portion of the questioned costs is in relation to personnel. Approximately $74,000 in purchases is also still being questioned. He said the district was able to satisfy TEA with the documentation to address most of the original challenged expenditures, but they are now demanding a refund of the remaining balance.

Several other Valley districts received similar letters from TEA, Mendoza said. Mission administrators plan to meet with the other affected Valley districts to compare their findings to see if there is a consistent pattern of disallowed expenditures.

“We’re going to look to see how we’re going to respond to that, and whether we can justify some of that as a lack of training and direction from TEA….Our perception is that we can’t all be wrong,” Mendoza said.

After discussing the matter in executive session, the board decided to a file an appeal and request a hearing with TEA to challenge the migrant fund audit findings.

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