WASTE, FRAUD & MISMANAGMENT:
Your Tax Dollars at Work

Hundreds of Schools Claim Entire Student Body Had Perfect Attendance in 2016-17. The California Department of Education last month sent letters to nearly 250 schools, including more than half the schools in San Francisco Unified School District, asking them to check their attendance records after they submitted data claiming that every one of their students had perfect attendance during the entire 2016-17 school year.

“The data was submitted as part of California’s first-ever statewide count of chronic absenteeism,” EdSource reported. “The 246 suspect schools, which come from 83 districts, make up about 2.4 percent of the just over 10,000 schools that submitted attendance data.”

On January 28, the state sent letters to the districts that reported perfect attendance, asking them to “either confirm that certified data are accurate or explain why data may be inaccurate.”

Eighty-three of the schools that reported perfect attendance came from San Francisco Unified, one of the largest districts in California with more than 50,000 students enrolled at 136 schools. The district reported 8.3 percent of its overall student body was chronically absent, which refers to students who miss at least 10 percent of class days for any reason, but a state official said the Department of Education does not consider the district’s data to be an accurate reflection of the chronic absenteeism rate.

Although district representatives acknowledged to EdSource that mistakes were made, the publication noted this week that “the suspect data for San Francisco remains posted on the state’s DataQuest website for now, with no indication that state officials doubt its accuracy.”

The story did not indicate whether the school districts’ records also are being scrutinized to determine if inaccuracies have led to schools receiving more than their fair share of funds that are distributed based upon average daily attendance. (Source: EdSource, February 7.)

State-Owned Vacant Lots Attract Squatters, Vandals and Thieves. The Los Angeles Times reports: “The California High-Speed Rail Authority now owns more than 1,272 parcels stretching from Madera to south of Wasco, a 119-mile corridor of abandoned commercial buildings, vacant lots, dying orchards, boarded up homes and construction sites. Some day it may be the path for a gleaming bullet train system, but today much of it is an eyesore and a magnet for criminal activity that is affecting the surrounding areas. It has put stress on already hard-luck communities that grapple with poverty, homelessness and crime.”

A designer who works on the high-speed rail project told the newspaper the project has created “a linear ghetto.”

Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis said that since the rail authority began buying land in that city in 2013, there have been 38 arsons on or adjacent to the properties. To mitigate the problem, the rail authority allowed the Fire Department to burn buildings as part of firefighting and rescue practices. The structures include a former IRS building. (Source: The Los Angeles Times, February 4.)

 

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