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Report Finds Violations Widespread In San Diego City Schools

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Aired 6/3/10

The San Diego County Grand Jury finds there is a lot of fraud, waste and abuse in the San Diego Unified School District. The panel found some school officials are raiding the coffers of Associated Student Body groups at their campuses.

The San Diego County Grand Jury finds there is a lot of fraud, waste and abuse in the San Diego Unified School District.

The panel found some school officials are raiding the coffers of Associated Student Body groups at their campuses.

Student leaders raise money to pay for events like school dances, festivals and assemblies. But the Grand Jury has found the student funds are paying for equipment and supplies that benefit employees.

Victoria Stubblefield is the foreperson for the San Diego County Grand Jury. She says they also found schools are unlawfully charging students to take part in extracurricular programs.

For example, families pay about $4,200 for their kids to participate in the marching band at Clairemont High School; $1,800 for the cheerleading program at Madison High School; $180 for the water polo program at Serra High School.

Stubblefield says charging public school students for certain programs is a violation of state education law. She says the practice denies students from low-income families the right to take part.

“Parents need to start questioning the schools. They need to know where that money is going and why they are paying for certain things.”

It was just last week when the grand jury applauded San Diego Unified for having a fraud hotline.

Stubblefield says that system has actually helped uncover some of these violations.

For example, employees were caught embezzling tens of thousands of dollars and falsifying payroll records. In one case, one or more school workers were targeted for soliciting young prostitutes.

San Diego Unified school district officials issued a written statement, saying their own investigations have led to the discipline and termination of district employees.

Officials say they will carefully review the grand jury findings and develop an appropriate response. The grand jury is asking for a formal plan of action in August.

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