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BISD must give up more than $500,000 for attendance violations

KFDM News has learned the Beaumont school district must give up more than half a million dollars for violations the state discovered in its investigation into reports of attendance discrepancies and fraud within the district.

The exact amount the Texas Education Agency will recapture from BISD is $522,919.

(Previous report) BEAUMONT - The Texas Education Agency has released its report on BISD attendance irregularities, and TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson tells KFDM News the report found the irregularities run the gamut from "sloppiness, inexperience, lack of internal controls to allegations of fraud." Click here to read the entire TEA report on BISD attendance reporting irregularities Culbertson told Fox 4 News the district will lose state funding as a result of the attendance irregularities and she says the amount will be "significant." Daily attendance figures help determine how much funding a district receives from the state. BISD receives millions of dollars each year. The report examined BISD student attendance records for 2012-13. BISD says it can't refute the agency's report and is instituting changes and training to prevent future problems and irregularities. According to the TEA Executive Summary: The school district is in violation of the rules and laws governing student attendance accounting for the 2012-13 school year.

General attendance-taking rules were not followed in the in-school suspension (ISS) classrooms at Central Senior High School (CHS), Ozen High School (OHS) or South Park Middle School (SPMS).

Student sign-in sheets were being used to record attendance at OHS (Ozen) and SPMS (South Park). At CHS (Central), the ISS teacher was not properly certifying daily attendance records.

The original complaint allegations stated that students who were not present in the ISS classroom were still being counted as present for funding purposes. Even though the attendance documents maintained by the school district were not acceptable source attendance documents, investigators were able to use them to investigate the allegations. On all three campuses, investigators found that the district reported students as present for funding purposes when the students were not listed on the attendance documents provided for our review. General attendance-taking rules were not followed CHS (Central High School) for 11th and 12th grade students who went on field trips during standardized testing days. Student sign-in sheets were being used to record attendance for these students. The original complaint allegations stated that students who stayed home and did not participate in field trips were counted as present by the district for funding purposes. Auditors were unable to fully investigate this allegation as a result of missing documents in the case of the 11th grade students and as a result of fraudulent documentation in the case of the 12th grade students.

The partial investigation of 11th grade student attendance did show many students were coded as present even though their names did not appear on the student sign-in sheets.

Changes to student attendance were made at Dr. Mae Jones-Clark Elementary School (JCES) without proper evidence to support the changes.

These changes resulted in non-fundable codes being changed to fundable codes during the official attendance period without proper documentation to prove the legitimacy of the changes.

The report found: *At Central High School, 42.07% of the students coded ISS (in-school suspension) did not appear on teacher attendance rosters.

*At Ozen High School, 14.34% of the students coded ISS did not appear on the student sign-in sheets.

*At South Park Middle School, 6.36% of the students coded ISS did not appear on the student sign-in sheets.

KFDM News talked with TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson for comment.

"The report will go to the school funding people at TEA who'll review it and determine how much the district will have to pay," Culbertson told KFDM News. "It's typically done through a net funding decrease in a following school year or earlier. We don't have an estimate but it will be significant. I think sloppiness covers it completely. There were bad internal controls. Just a lack of knowledge of how to do the reports, sloppiness and fraud. They definitely found fraud in the case of 12th grade students at Central. Will the district do anything? It runs the gamut from sloppiness, inexperience, lack of internal controls and allegations of fraudulent behavior."

She says the TEA is still working on its final investigation into BISD centering on claims of cheating on standardized testing.

BEAUMONT - From BISD Click here to read the entire TEA report on BISD attendance reporting irregularities Watch Fox 4 News and stay with kfdm.com for updates and reaction.

Subsequent to an investigation by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) into student attendance records for the 2012-2013 school year, The Beaumont Independent School District conducted an internal inquiry related to the findings reported by the TEA. The Beaumont ISD cannot refute the agency's report which indicates the school district is in violation of the rules and laws governing student attendance accounting for the 2012-2013 school year. Specifically, in regards to the following: Finding 1: Investigators received complaints containing allegations that students who were not present in the In-School Suspension (ISS) classroom were still being counted as present for funding purposes on the Central High School (CHS), Ozen High School (OHS), and South Park Middle School (SPMS) campuses. Finding 2: Investigators received complaints containing allegations that 11th and 12th grade students who stayed home and did not participate in field trips during standardized testing days at CHS were counted as present for funding purposes.

Finding 3: Investigators received a complaint containing allegations that attendance data was being improperly changed at Jones-Clark {>}Elementary School (JCES).

The complaint stated that attendance coding was being changed in the student attendance accounting software after teachers had submitted their daily attendance. Lack of physical evidence to dispute findings.

The district does not have notes, physical evidence, or other documentation on file to dispute the findings (1, 2 or 3) and acknowledges its failure to properly maintain attendance documentation under the rules set forth in the TEA Student Attendance Accounting Handbook (SAAH). Actions & Initiatives The district is committed to deal forthrightly with the agency's findings as well as institute a series of structural, procedural and policy changes aligned to TEA standards in order to improve data quality and protect against a recurrence of such inaccuracies. Implementation of immediate corrective actions to ensure awareness and compliance with both professional and agency standards include: -- Delivery of Superintendent's message to all staff regarding integrity, professionalism, and ethics to establish the "tone-at-the-top;" -- Mandatory training for all employees on Whistleblower policies and procedures to ensure staff members know their rights and the protection afforded against retaliation for reporting violations; -- Provided professional development workshops to all administrators, business office personnel, attendance clerks, secretaries, and other attendance accounting staff on the topic of fraud detection and fraud prevention; -- Enhancement of internal controls in the student information system (SIS) to accurately record an attendance record for courses/sections where student attendance is not posted by a teacher. In addition, in light of information gleaned from TEA and the district's internal inquiry, attendance training and auditing services for all district administrators as well as attendance personnel have been implemented to ensure the daily accurate record keeping of student attendance. TEA will release the full report Tuesday November 18, 2014.

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