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:


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.
Mathematics Webinar
Pave the Path to Excellence in Math
Empower your students' math journey with Sue O'Connell, author of “Math in Practice” and “Navigating Numeracy.”
Content provided by hand2mind
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.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Combatting Teacher Shortages: Strategies for Classroom Balance and Learning Success
Learn from leaders in education as they share insights and strategies to support teachers and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Reading Instruction and AI: New Strategies for the Big Education Challenges of Our Time
Join the conversation as experts in the field explore these instructional pain points and offer game-changing guidance for K-12 leaders and educators.

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 Proposal to Use E-Rate for Wi-Fi on School Buses and Hotspots Runs Into GOP Opposition
Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked the FCC to “rescind this unlawful plan to vastly expand the E-Rate program.”
5 min read
School kids looking at a girl's mobile phone across the aisle of a school bus.
Ed-Tech Policy What the Head of ChatGPT Told Congress About AI's Potential
Sam Altman, the CEO of the company that created ChatGPT, thinks that AI-generated content needs to be labeled as such.
3 min read
Artificial intelligence and schoolwork image with hand holding pencil with digital AI collage overtop
Ed-Tech Policy Schools Are Major Targets of Cyberattacks. A Bipartisan Effort in Congress Aims to Help
There have been 1,619 publicly disclosed K-12 cyberattacks between 2016 and 2022.
3 min read
Silhouette of a hacker in a hoodie using laptop with binary code overlay.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Ed-Tech Policy We Asked ChatGPT: Should Schools Ban You?
The debate about the benefits and drawbacks of artificial intelligence, and more specifically ChatGPT, is heating up.
1 min read
Vector illustration of the letters AI partially breaking through the red circle and slash symbol representing it being banned
Tech luminaries and prominent AI researchers signed an open letter calling for temporarily putting the brakes on development of AI technologies.