School & District Management

Audit Alleges Education Leaders Council Misused Federal Grant, Urges Repayment

By Jessica L. Tonn — February 03, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education has released an audit of the Education Leaders Council, charging that the Washington-based organization misused federal grant money for its Following the Leaders project.

Between July 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2004, the ELC received more than $23 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Education. The federal aid was for the ELC’s Following the Leaders school improvement program. Congress appropriated an additional $9.7 million for the project in the 2005 fiscal year, prompting critics to question the group’s spending habits and effectiveness.

The ELC was started in 1995 as a conservative-leaning national voice for school improvement.

The audit, released Jan. 31, also found that the organization “drew down and expended federal funds it was not entitled to.” In fiscal year 2003, ELC overdrew its grant by $495,326, which the report blames on inadequate controls within the organization.

In addition, more than 28 percent of the grant costs reviewed in the audit were either questioned or unsupported, the report said. Among the $232,000 in questionable costs were expenditures for meals, entertainment, and travel that did not appear to be related to the Follow the Leaders project. Also noted by the report were expenses that federal grants cannot be used for, such as alcoholic beverages, advertising, and fundraising.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General’s Office, which conducted the audit, recommended that the department require ELC to reimburse the nearly $500,000 in grant money that it overdrew, and either refund or provide adequate documentation for the spending that was questioned in the report. The office also asked that ELC maintain evidence that all of its employees have reviewed the policies and procedures for using the federal grant money.

In Dec. 2005, ELC submitted a response to the first draft of the audit, claiming that the group had “long since corrected many of the accounting entries, a fact which is given minimal attention in this report.”

Though officials representing ELC could not be reached for comment on the final audit report, they have 30 days to reply to the department.

Related Tags:


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Late Arrivals, Steep Costs: Why Some Districts Ditch Third-Party Bus Companies
Districts are facing a host of transportation challenges. Some have addressed them by deciding to bring buses back in house.
6 min read
School buses parked in Helena, Mont., ahead of the beginning of the school year on Aug. 20, 2021.
Some districts are pulling back on decisions to outsource bus services in an effort to save money and improve service.
Iris Samuels/AP
School & District Management Rising Tensions From Israel-Hamas War Are Seeping Into Schools
As effects of the war reverberate in school communities, schools have federal responsibilities to create discrimination-free environments.
5 min read
People gather in Pliny Park in Brattleboro, Vt., for a vigil, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, for the three Palestinian-American students who were shot while walking near the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., Saturday, Nov. 25. The three students were being treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center, and one faces a long recovery because of a spinal injury, a family member said.
People gather in Pliny Park in Brattleboro, Vt., for a vigil, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, for the three Palestinian-American students who were shot while walking near the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., Saturday, Nov. 25. Tensions over the Israel-Hamas war are playing out in schools and colleges across the country, including some K-12 schools.
Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP
School & District Management The Missed Opportunity for Public Schools and Climate Change
More cities are creating climate action plans, but schools are often left out of the equation.
4 min read
Global warming illustration, environment pollution, global warming heating impact concept. Change climate concept.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management 13 States Bar School Board Members From Getting Paid. Here's Where It's Allowed (Map)
There are more calls to increase school board members' pay, or to allow them to be paid at all.
Two professional adults, with a money symbol.