Final Audit ReportED-OIG/A05G0021
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Educational Agencies (SEAs) in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama to provideassistance or services to local educational agencies (LEAs) and non-public schools tohelp defray expenses related to the restart of operations in, the reopening of, and the re-enrollment of students in elementary and secondary schools that serve an area in which amajor disaster had been declared related to Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Congressappropriated $750 million for the Restart program, including $3.75 million to Alabama.SEAs, LEAs, and non-public schools in the declared disaster areas incurred considerableexpenses as they reopened schools and were in urgent need of financial assistance. Indetermining the Restart amount to be provided to LEAs for services or assistance, SEAsconsidered the (1) number of school aged children served by the LEA or non-publicschools in the 2004-2005 school year, for schools that were closed on September 12,2005, or October 7, 2005; (2) severity of the impact Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Ritahad on the LEA or non-public school; and (3) extent of the needs in each LEA or non-public school in a declared disaster area.ALSDE identified the eligible LEAs and non-public schools located within each of thedeclared eligible counties. ALSDE sent a letter, which included a survey form andPreliminary Guidelines for Restart funds, to each LEA within the declared eligiblecounties to determine how many LEAs needed Restart assistance. ALSDE instructedeach LEA to distribute the survey information to each public school or non-public schoolwithin their attendance zone. ALSDE required the LEAs to complete, sign, and returnthe survey forms. Mobile was the only Alabama LEA that submitted a request for Restartfunds.On January 5, 2006, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) obligated$3,750,000 in Restart funds for ALSDE. As of January 12, 2007, ALSDE had provided$1,059,329 to Mobile. ALSDE allocated the Restart funds to Mobile based on reviewingMobile’s public and non-public schools’ Restart applications. ALSDE has not drawndown the remaining $2,690,671 it was awarded.According to Section 102(e)(1) of the HERA, the authorized uses of Restart fundsinclude the recovery of student and personnel data and other electronic information,replacement of school district information systems, financial operations, reasonabletransportation costs, rental of mobile educational units and the lease of neutral sites andspaces, initial replacement of instructional materials and equipment, redevelopment of instructional plans, initiation and maintenance of education and support services, andother activities related to the purpose of the program. According to Section 102(e)(2) of the HERA, an LEA may use such services or assistance in coordination with otherFederal, State, or local funds available for the activities described above. However,Restart funds may not be used to supplant any funds the Federal Emergency ManagementAgency or State provided.