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Urban League In Auditor’s Cross-hairs (Yes, Again) Over Cleveland High Program

June 30, 2011

File this under wtfdejavu. That’s a new word. It was necessary to create one, give this:

The state auditor is again questioning whether the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has overcharged Seattle Public Schools — this time for a contract it signed with the school district in December to help African-American students at Cleveland High.

The district approved the $80,000 contract, despite questions it had about the League’s work with the district’s now-defunct small-business program. District officials signed the more recent contract anyway, saying the full scope of concerns was not clear at the time.

Really?! The “full scope” wasn’t clear?! Nice try. Just ‘cuz you say so, doesn’t make it true, Seattle Schools.

A more accurate assessment is that they ignored the full scope of the concerns until it was impossible to do so. But whatever. Let’s hand out another $80k for… oh that’s right, you don’t know what it was for- damn that 1-line billing!

More, from the Seattle Times:

auditors said monthly invoices submitted for the program lacked detail, with just a one-line description of the work and a lump-sum charge of $8,000. The program, called Urban Scholars, was modeled after a privately funded program run by the Urban League at Garfield High.

Auditors did not name the Urban League, but district officials confirmed that’s the contractor in question.

The district recently canceled the Urban Scholars contract, along with the only other contract it still had with the Urban League, for after-school tutoring services.

And also:

Duggan Harman, the district’s executive director of finance, said the district agreed with the auditor’s concerns about how the Urban League billed for the Urban Scholars program.

He said he believes the program at Cleveland was a good one but that the district ultimately felt the Urban League had misled it about how many students were being helped.

“We made the decision that we didn’t want to do business with them,” Harman said.

It became clear, he said, that the invoices for the Cleveland program included expenses for the separate and privately funded program at Garfield.

At Cleveland, the League served about 30 students.

Sound familiar? The ULMS admitted it used contract money from Seattle Public Schools to “keep the doors open.” Now it seems the Urban League was taking money for 1 group of kids and using it to fund a program for another group of kids. I have to check the rule book, but you might could go to hell for that.

And also, who knows if the Urban Scholars program is effective..  Yeah, the adults on the ground working with the kids are passionate, highly qualified and far from the poor decision making at the District or the Urban League, and yeah, the kids are awesome, driven, working hard to create their own paths to success, but whatever, right? Heck, a program like ULS could be a saving grace, but no one cares now.  Not with this kind of residue smeared all over it.

Here’s a question though, which pot of SPS money was used in this latest contract debacle? Inner city…South Seattle…brown kids… hmmmm… Families and Education Levy, anyone?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel permalink
    July 2, 2011 10:54 am

    Titillating post, but I think it’s important to point out that Families & Education Levy money is SEPARATE from SPS money. Levy dollars are administered by the City, not the School District… so if anyone’s got a beef with the district (and they should), take those grievances to the School Board; don’t take it out on the low-income kids who need the support the Levy provides.

  2. July 4, 2011 1:56 am

    Daniel, it sounds like you’re saying SPS does not have direct access to Levy dollars, and that said dollars come directly from the city for any programs serving SPS students- this is absolutely untrue. The City gives Levy dollars to the district for approved uses.

    Further, the mentioning of the levy was not to say “dont renew the levy” or attack it in some way (see the article immediately prior to this one for my take on the levy) but that the district, and by extension the city, are potential throwing money at organizations when they can’t even show what the funds were used for. $8k a month based on 1-line billing? Really? Can I submit a flimsy piece of paper for non-descript services and get paid 8k a month too? That sounds like a GREAT plan, and a GREAT use of taxpayer money. No? Exactly.

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