District to appeal audit findings for Edmonds Heights K-12 School
The Edmonds School District said it will appeal a recent Washington State Auditor’s Office report that found the district didn’t have adequate controls over enrollment reporting for the Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) program at Edmonds Heights K-12 School in the 2010-11 school year, resulting in possible $1.1 million in overpayments based on the number of students actually enrolled.
“We will be contesting the amount the SAO says we were overpaid,” District spokeswoman DJ Jakala said in a statement Monday.
According to an article in the Herald, the Edmonds program was one of 67 school district Alternative Learning Programs that the SAO audited, resulting in 52 “reportable conditions” – including findings and management letters — for those districts.
We have linked to a copy of the audit findings here, which includes on page 7 the amount that the SAO says the district was overpaid: $1,154,687. The State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has told the district that due to the number of ALE findings statewide, the K-12 Audit Resolution Team said it could take up to a year for the issue to be resolved, Jakala said.
According to the school’s website, Edmonds Heights K-12 “recognizes the parent as the primary teacher and works as a resource to the family to insure a high quality learning experience for each child consistent with the expectations of the student’s family and the Essential Learning’s established by the state Commission on Student Learning.” The school was formerly known as the Edmonds Homeschool Resource Center.
In its official response to the audit findings, the district said that while it takes the issue seriously, “it does not concur with the auditor’s finding both in scope, cause and the general characterization of the operation of our ALE program at Edmonds Heights K-12.” The district said it faced “documentation challenges” during the launch of a new computer database that replaced an aging software program. The new system was designed” to enhance the compliance and efficiency of the previous system,” but instead experienced “almost daily bugs” that forced the school to rely on a paper and pencil process.
The district was also critical of the SAO staff, noting that staff members “poorly communicated their needs, often collecting data from our software implementation without asking appropriate questions to insure understanding of our practices.”
“Out of the total hours initially allocated to the audit, the auditors on site spent less than four of the 316 hours of the initial District audit at Edmonds Heights K-12,” the district said. “They consistently revealed both a poor understanding of our program model as well as an inconsistent application of their own ALE rule standard.”