A recent letter from two Republican leaders on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee charges that Superintendent Beverly L. Hall of the Atlanta schools has been unforthcoming about the 55,000-student district’s role in the panel’s investigation of the federal E-rate program.
The April 22 letter from Reps. Joe L. Barton of Texas, the committee’s chairman, and Edward Whitfield of Kentucky, who chairs its oversight and investigations subcommittee, finds fault with a district press release on its Web site titled “National E-rate Investigations Not Focused on APS.”
The lawmakers criticized a claim in the release, posted on the district’s Web site, that the Atlanta district was featured in the committee’s two-year investigation as a happenstance of the probe’s national scope. In fact, the congressmen said, their interest in Atlanta “was prompted by very detailed reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of E-rate program waste, fraud, and abuse.”
The committee discussed questions the newspaper raised about $60 million in E-rate money the district spent on a sophisticated computer network between 1998 and 2002.
In an April 27 letter to the committee, Ms. Hall said the district had publicly admitted making “errors in the administration of the E-rate program,” but that the money was spent on educating the children of Atlanta. A full accounting of the program has not been completed by the district.