As many of you may have heard, our very own College of the Desert (COD) has been under investigation by Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) in an agreement with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office for the suspected irregularities in apportionment attendance reporting. The FCMAT’s data management services are used to help local educational agencies (LEAs) meet state reporting responsibilities, improve data quality, and share information.
Why attendances reports matter? When a college reports their attendance, they are entitled to a specific amount of funding, which is paid for by our tax dollars. The FCMAT states: “California community colleges receive more than 80% of their unrestricted funding from state apportionment paid through the Chancellor’s Office and funding is primarily driven by the FTES workload measure.” The funding given to colleges is allocated to all colleges in California. The money that COD was overpaid will be collected and need to be reallocated to those schools that should have received the funds. So, the overpayment received by COD has affected the resources of other California community colleges.
The official report that FCMAT received was: “An informant notified the Chancellor’s Office that the district was inaccurately reporting full-time equivalent students (FTES) attendance for purposes of apportionment revenue based on catalog hours instead of actual student contact hours and furthermore, that district administrators were aware of the misreporting of FTES.”According to a letter from California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris, to Chair Board of Trustees Bonnie Stefan and Superintendent/President Joel Kinnamon of the Desert Community College District (CCD), “Based on audited recalculated attendance and FTES data for the seven-year period in question [fiscal year 2003-2004 to fiscal year 2010-2011], we have determined that Desert CCD was overpaid $5,261,544 based on its erroneous apportionment claims. To rectify this matter, this amount will be collected in full from the District.” Not only does COD need to pay back the $5,261,544, but COD must additionally pay $630,169 for the apportionment attendance reporting for the 2011-2012 school year. The picture provided will show the audit of the overage of money allocated to COD.
COD representatives state that this was a mistake within the Datatel system COD switched to in 2003 and uses to track student hours. COD was supposed to account for actual student hours attended, but reportedly used catalog hours instead. The different hours resulted in more hours reported to the state.
Many would question if this falsified attendance report was done knowingly by officials at COD. In the audit by the FCMAT, many items were investigated. The FCMAT reports in the audit that: “FCMAT has identified approximately 50 emails that demonstrate management may have knowingly committed a wrongful act, misrepresented material facts, concealed material facts, or failed to exercise their fiduciary duty of loyalty and care.” The FCMAT also reports that “District administrators, senior management, and the attendance consultant were informed numerous times starting no later than June 28, 2005 by several district staff members that FTES calculations were incorrectly based on catalog hours rather than actual hours.”
All of my information was taken from the COD website following the map: home>community>public relations>media resources, and selecting the special reports folder. The two main reports are the Desert CCD – FCMAT final report and the Desert CCD – Letter from B. Harris. The information is provided for all to read.