AG: Schools using desegregation money elsewhere

AG: Schools using desegregation money elsewhere

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wants to know why millions of state tax dollars given to Pulaski County school districts are not going where they are supposed to.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wants to know why millions of state tax dollars given to Pulaski County school districts are not going where they are supposed to.

Pulaski County’s three public school districts receive roughly $70 million in state funds each year to pay for desegregation efforts. However, an independent audit of the Pulaski County Special School District and the North Little Rock School District shows that the districts can not prove all the money they receive is actually going to desegregation programs.

The report shows that PCSSD spent 58% of its desegregation funds on desegregation programs. For NLRSD, it was “impossible to determine” how much of the funding actually went to desegregation efforts.

“Pulaski County and North Little Rock both have been placed on notice of their fiscal distress status by the Department of Education. That's only going to be made worse when the money comes to an end by the fact that by our report they are clearly co-mingling it with their operating dollars," said McDaniel.

PCSSD Superintendent Charles Hopson said, in a statement, “The District and its attorneys have just received the report and are in the process of studying it. However, we are not aware of any restrictions in the use of these funds in any settlement agreement or court order.”

Members of the North Little Rock school board declined to comment to Fox 16, instead opting for a statement released though an attorney:

"Desegregation funding referred to in this report received by the North Little Rock School District is "incentive" money for participating in the Major-to-Minority (M-to-M) and Magnet transfer programs. In 1985, this money came from the 8th District Circuit Court of Appeals and no direction was given as to how funds should be allocated or guidance for accounting of funds. The Desegregation Plan for the North Little Rock School District requires certain things be accomplished - independent of the "incentive" funds received for inter-district transfers."

McDaniel, however, isn’t buying the school district’s argument. "I would think one of the reasons they may be having problems is if they need to have someone tell them that that desegregation money should be spent on desegregation efforts."

The report on how the Little Rock School District is spending their desegregation money has not been completed. The Attorney General says that’s because, “they're the biggest and frankly they were the most difficult to get into. We didn't have access to their software and their lawyers tried to stop us from ever having access to how the public money is being spent."

Tiffany Hoffman, the spokesperson for the Little Rock School District, says "Hopefully, the audit will show that we, we have been very transparent with our accounting procedures and that we are doing what we're supposed to with the money."
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