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Audit Finds Abuses in Migrant-Education Program

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WASHINGTON--The way the government disburses migrant-education funds invites abuses and should be changed, says the Education Department's inspector general.

In his semiannual report, released this month, Inspector General James B. Thomas said a nationwide audit of expenditures under the program for the six-month period that ended March 31 had revealed that $22 million was awarded to states for children who were ineligible for services.

States received another $44 million, he said, for children who may no longer have been residents at the time of the awards.

The migrant-education program will disburse nearly $270 million to state education agencies during the current fiscal year.

Mr. Thomas recommended that the Congress consider basing allocations on statistics gathered by independent third parties, and changing the definition of a migrant child in order to target funds to only those children who have suffered an interruption in their education.

The department had recommended such changes last year, but the Congress failed to act on them.

Mr. Thomas estimated that the government could save nearly $151- million if the changes were adopted.

The inspector general's report also highlighted the results of audits of a variety of other federal education programs. Among the findings:
The State of Oklahoma should be required to repay the department $6.2 million, and the State of Pennsylvania $4.2 million, for overpayments in the Chapter 1 remedial-education program.

The overpayments were caused by "significantly overstated'' pupil costs for the fiscal years 1982 and 1983, according to the report.

  • New York City should return $5.3 million to the department for the misuse of Chapter 1 funds in a high-school guidance and counseling program.
  • The California education department should repay the government $4.2 million for Chapter 2 block-grant funds that were misused.

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