Feds investigating Donna schools for use of E-rate funds

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DONNA, Texas (AP) — At least two federal agencies are investigating allegations that the Donna school district improperly used federal funds intended for improving technology, the district's superintendent said.

Interim Superintendent Robert Loredo, who took over last week, said Thursday he has suspended three employees in the technology department for what he said were failures to cooperate with federal officials.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission were on campus last week examining the district's use of federal funds administered under the E-Rate program, a technology in schools initiative. Representatives of both agencies declined to discuss the case.

Their investigation appears to be linked to a report earlier this summer in which the Texas Education Agency alleged that Donna schools broke state purchasing laws in awarding technology contracts worth $6.6 million to a Corpus Christi telecommunications firm without accepting additional bids, a school board member said.

The firm, Integrity Communications, has won more than $23 million worth of telecommunications projects in the Donna school district since 2005. The company has done business with the school district since 2004, the same year former Superintendent Joe D. Gonzalez took over.

The Donna school board suspended Gonzalez with pay in July after the TEA report came out. He declined to be interviewed.

A message left by The Associated Press with Integrity Communications was not immediately returned Friday.


Information from: The Monitor, http://www.themonitor.com

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