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HomeEducation NewsDPS pays $2.1 million in alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds

DPS pays $2.1 million in alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds


Denver Public Colleges has agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle allegations that it used AmeriCorps funds to supply advantages to current staff for performing their common job duties.

AmeriCorps is a federal service program that gives stipends and different incentives, similar to mortgage forgiveness, to People who volunteer with nonprofits, public businesses, or different organizations on initiatives similar to serving to communities recuperate from nationwide disasters or mentoring youth. In colleges, AmeriCorps volunteers carry out jobs similar to tutoring college students and fascinating households.

The lawsuit, introduced by the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace for Colorado, claims that for grant years 2015 and 2016, Denver Public Colleges recruited its personal staff into AmeriCorps positions and counted their common job duties as service hours with a view to pay them academic advantages. 

“By enrolling lecturers as AmeriCorps members, DPS disadvantaged its at-risk college students of the extra academic help they have been entitled to obtain from nationwide service members,” AmeriCorps Inspector Basic Deborah Jeffrey mentioned in an announcement. “Double-counting lecturers’ paid work as nationwide service hours meant that the group obtained no internet profit from AmeriCorps funding.”

The US Lawyer’s Workplace for the District of Colorado introduced the settlement in a press launch Tuesday. The district doesn’t admit legal responsibility, and the claims within the lawsuit stay allegations.

In an announcement, Denver Public Colleges officers mentioned the district “acknowledges that allegations of non-compliance have been raised” however maintains it ran this system “in alignment with its core mission of teaching youth.”

“As soon as DPS turned conscious of sure irregularities, it paused this system, investigated practices, and took steps to enhance its procedures and processes,” district officers mentioned.

The federal lawsuit alleges six of the district’s AmeriCorps packages obtained $557,200 in direct funding for which they weren’t eligible and that AmeriCorps gave out $858,674 in schooling advantages based mostly on false certifications about service hours in these packages.

Along with the $2.1 million settlement, Denver Public Colleges has agreed to pay for any academic advantages that haven’t but been distributed, as much as $614,000. The district mentioned these funds will come from reserves and gained’t have an effect on academic programming this faculty yr.

The U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace mentioned a former DPS supervisor admitted that they “pushed the envelope” in ways in which violated program guidelines. The district has fired or accepted the resignations of staff who managed the grants, in keeping with the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace. Insufficient coaching, supervision, and record-keeping contributed to the alleged guidelines violations, the press launch mentioned. 

“Denver Public Colleges used thousands and thousands of federal {dollars} from AmeriCorps in ways in which violated the fundamental guidelines of the AmeriCorps program,” U.S. Lawyer Matthew Kirsch mentioned in an announcement. “Its misuse of these funds interfered with AmeriCorps’ core mission — to present college students extra academic assets.”

The allegations are much like the findings of a 2018 report from Serve Colorado, the state company that oversees AmeriCorps packages right here. That report led to the district returning $200,000 in federal cash it had obtained for the 2017-18 faculty yr. Roughly 400 staff have been deemed ineligible for academic advantages from AmeriCorps. The district agreed to pay these advantages at a value of as much as $1.8 million.

The district didn’t dispute the findings of the state report on the time.

​​Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer covers schooling coverage and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s schooling protection. Contact Erica at emeltzer@chalkbeat.org.



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