Louisiana may have received $6 million more in federal hurricane aid than it was entitled to because it didn’t keep good track of displaced students, according to an audit by the U.S. Department of Education.
Congress created a $750 million grant program to help reimburse states coping with the massive displacement of students in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. As of December 2006, Louisiana had received $291.7 million in emergency impact aid, of which $260.4 million had been spent, said the Sept. 21 audit by the inspector general’s office in the Education Department.
The state properly allocated money to affected school districts, and the money was spent according to program guidelines, the audit found. But auditors concluded that Louisiana did not have “adequate systems of internal control” to provide accurate counts of students displaced by the storms. In one case, both Texas and Louisiana counted the same 533 students over the same time period as being enrolled in their states, resulting in possible overpayment.
In a response to a draft of the audit, Louisiana state schools Superintendent Paul G. Pastorek said that the audit appeared to make no acknowledgment of the record-keeping upheaval caused by the hurricanes. The state also contends that the audit’s methodology was flawed.
Similar audits have been performed for Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.