Holt began her presentation by setting the record straight on two issues she said have been commonly mischaracterized in public discourse since the release of the state audit report a couple of weeks ago.
State education board demands $11.2 million back from Epic Charter Schools over state audit findings | Education
She said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s charge to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd included the task of reviewing annual audits on Epic from the previous three years, but it did not limit the scope of the forensic audit as a whole to any such time period.
In all, $125.2 million of the $458 million allocated to Epic Charter Schools for educating students the past six years was found to have ended up in the coffers of Epic Youth Services, a for-profit charter school management company that has reportedly made millionaires of school co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney.
“We ask for annual appropriations totaling approximately $3 billion and $125 million works out to about 4.1%,” said state board member Kurt Bollenbach, of Kingfisher. “Are you saying I do not have access to or oversight of 4.1% of the funds that come through this department?“
Holt responded: “Yes.”
Holt described how Epic and its affiliates armed themselves with lawyers to make the state auditors’ task of interviewing school personnel and scrutinizing records particularly difficult.
So difficult in fact that 63% of the funds turned over to EYS — nearly $80 million budgeted for students’ learning needs — remains out of reach of the State Auditor’s Office and outside public scrutiny.
A federal judge has ruled that Florida State University must pay the salary of a former campus Senate president who was ousted over his religious views.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor last week ordered FSU to make “prospective payment” for lost wages to former Student Senate President Jack Denton, a senior and political science major who was voted out by his colleagues in June over text messages he exchanged with other Catholic students.
Judge Winsor, a Trump appointee, said the university, which administers the student government, had violated Mr. Denton’s First Amendment rights by failing to protect him against retaliation for his protected speech and should resume paying his stipend until his term’s expiration in November.
“To state the obvious, expressing one’s religious views is a constitutionally protected activity. And being removed from a student Senate presidency, as Denton was, would chill someone from expressing himself,” the judge wrote in his 25-page preliminary ruling in the closely watched religious liberty case.
Judge Winsor compared Mr. Denton’s ouster to the Georgia state legislature refusing to seat newly elected lawmaker Julian Bond in 1966 over his criticism of the Vietnam War. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled the legislature’s move unconstitutional.
“All students should be able to peacefully share their personal connections without fear of retaliation,” said Tyson Langhofer, an attorney with the nonprofit advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing Mr. Denton.
An FSU spokesperson wrote in email that school officials are reviewing the decision and “considering the university’s options.” An attorney for the Student Senate defendants did not respond to request for comment.
FSU pays the Student Senate president $9 an hour. Mr. Denton told the court that he estimated working six hours a week until the end of his term on Nov. 11. He is to be paid
FLINT, MI — The formula used to funnel some special education dollars through the Genesee Intermediate School Distrct to local districts violates state law, an administrative law judge has said.
For Flint schools, this could mean the district will get more special education funding because it has a higher than average percentage of special education students. It also could mean less money for school districts with a high total student count but lower percentage of special education students, like Grand Blanc Community Schools.
As it currently stands, the GISD Mandatory Plan appropriates $3.8 million of Act 18 special education funds back to local districts based on a three-part formula: 1. Total special education headcount 2. Full-time-equivalent (FTE) special education student head count 3. Total FTE headcount. FTE head count is adjusted for part-time student numbers. These three factors are currently equally weighted.
However, Administrative Law Judge Michael St. John in a Friday, Oct 9 recommendation to State Superintendent Michael Rice, said this formula should change.
Residents challenge officials to change special education funding to benefit Flint schools
The Flint Community School district has said it is unfair to include total FTE as one third of the formula because it disadvantages the city district, which once was the largest in the county but has since lost ground to suburban districts.
GISD Superintendent Lisa Hagel testified that all three factors, including FTE, are of equal importance.
“However, the funding formula does not provide equal funding for the three factors,” St. John wrote in his recommendation. “Because the three numbers are simply averaged together, the larger number of FTE students dwarfs the smaller SEHC number and substantially dwarfs the much smaller SEFTE number. Rather than using relative percentages of each factor, they are simply added together and then divided. FTE therefore dominates both
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Faculty members at Youngstown State University intend to strike beginning Monday as attempts continue to reach a new three-year contract with the school.
Mark Vopat, spokesperson for the faculty union, released a statement Sunday saying the Ohio Education Association had sanctioned a strike. Monday is the first day of fall break at YSU.
Vopat says union representatives will meet with school administrators Monday afternoon in hopes of reaching a new deal before students return from the brief break on Wednesday.
WFMJ Channel 21 reports school officials offered a three-year deal that offered no pay increases in the first year, but increases of 1 percent in the second year and 2 percent in the third year. According to WFMY, university officials say the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a projected $3.7 million loss in revenue this fiscal year.
The union says it believes the university has a $7.3 million surplus, which school officials say is not the case.
YSU President Jim Tressel says in an email to students that the university is making plans to continue classes if the faculty strike continues Wednesday and beyond.
“Let’s remain optimistic,” Tressel says in the email. “You have shown great perseverance through this difficult year and worked hard to overcome many obstacles. We are committed to ensuring that you’ll be able to successfully complete this semester without disruption.”