Ed-Tech Policy

Atlanta Responds to E-Rate Scrutiny

By Rhea R. Borja — October 08, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Atlanta school officials, under close scrutiny from federal agencies and Congress for alleged mismanagement of $60 million in E-rate funding, have issued a report defending the district’s use of the federal technology aid.

The 116-page report, released Sept. 24, says that district employees lacked “clear guidance” on the education-rate program’s constantly evolving rules and procedures, and gives a detailed explanation for the alleged violations.

See Also

Return to the main story,

Cash Freeze for E-Rate Hits Schools

The alleged improprieties by the district include: applying for E-rate funding for schools that did not ultimately get E-rate products or services, keeping shoddy records, improperly working with ibm Corp. to win an E-rate contract, and duplicating work and equipment.

“[Atlanta Public Schools] has, by its own admission, struggled with some record-keeping and regulatory requirements. … APS acknowledges these technology and managerial challenges, as well as a lack of optimal oversight of some areas of the program,” the report says.

However, the district disputes the allegation that it received E-rate funding for which it did not qualify.

“APS competed with other E-rate eligible school districts to seek maximum E-rate discounts to which they were legally entitled,” the report says.

Rodney Moore, the general counsel for the Atlanta school system, pointed out that the report did not find fraud. Rather, “it found inefficiencies. And not every system has been scrutinized to the level we’ve been scrutinized.”

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating waste, fraud, and abuse in the $2.25 billion-a-year program of telecommunications aid for schools and libraries, ordered the 51,000-student Atlanta district this past summer to document its participation in the program.

District Under Fire

Atlanta is one of a number of districts and service providers nationwide that have come under fire for alleged misuse of E-rate funds. (“E-Rate Audits Expose Abuses in the Program,” Feb. 12, 2003.)

Seeking to clear the cloud of controversy over the district, school officials there hired an outside accounting firm to audit Atlanta’s use of E-rate funds and sought advice from an Arlington, Va.-based E-rate consulting firm, Funds for Learning. The district also recently started an internal investigation of its E-rate program.

The congressional investigation came after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran news articles earlier this year detailing alleged mismanagement. Examples cited by the newspaper included school officials’ inability to show what they had purchased with E-rate funds, overpayments for goods and services with E-rate money, and millions of dollars’ worth of unused equipment.

The Universal Service Administrative Co., the nonprofit agency that operates the E-rate program for the federal government, may order Atlanta to refund part of the $60 million the district received from 1998 to 2002 if it finds the district misused the money.

In addition, USAC is waiting to decide on a $14 million E-rate request from the school district, pending the outcome of the federal investigation.

Related Tags:


Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
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.
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute

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

Ed-Tech Policy Q&A Need an AI Policy for Your Schools? This District Used ChatGPT to Craft One
The Peninsula School District in Washington state was one of the first school systems in the country to craft AI policy guidance.
5 min read
a person and a robot study a cylinder filled with AI elements
Kathleen Fu for Education Week
Ed-Tech Policy From Our Research Center Schools Are Taking Too Long to Craft AI Policy. Why That's a Problem
Nearly 8 of every 10 educators say their districts don’t have clear AI policies, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey.
8 min read
A person sits at a computer and tries to figure out a cloud of AI Policy Confusion
Kathleen Fu for Education Week
Ed-Tech Policy The 'Homework Gap' Is About to Get Worse. What Should Schools Do?
The looming expiration of a federal program has districts worried that many students will not have adequate home internet access.
4 min read
A young boy does homework with a tablet at the kitchen table.
Ilona Titova/iStock
Ed-Tech Policy These State Lawmakers Want All School Districts to Craft AI Policies. Will Others Follow?
The vast majority of districts in the country have not released AI guidance, even though educators say they need it.
2 min read
Woman using a computer chatting with an intelligent artificial intelligence.