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Blaine School District 2010/2011 Wasington State Audit Finding

Blaine School District 2010/2011 Wasington State Audit Finding

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Publicado porTheNorthernLight
The Washington State Auditor's Office recently released the 2010/2011 audit for the Blaine School District. The sole finding was inadequate control over marking students absent. The district has sinced made changes to fix this problem.
The Washington State Auditor's Office recently released the 2010/2011 audit for the Blaine School District. The sole finding was inadequate control over marking students absent. The district has sinced made changes to fix this problem.

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Published by: TheNorthernLight on May 14, 2012
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Schedule of Federal Audit Findings and

Questioned Costs

Blaine School District No. 503
Whatcom County
September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2011

1. The District's internaI controIs are not adequate to ensure the accuracy of
unexcused absence rates it reports to the state. Incorrect reporting could
affect a determination on whether a school is meeting adequate yearly
progress requirements.

CFDA Number and Title: 84.010 Title I Grants to Local Educational
84.389 American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act Title I Grants to Local Educational
Agencies (Recovery Act)
Federal Grantor Name: U.S. Department of Education
Federal Award/Contract Number: NA
Pass-through Entity Name: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Pass-through Award/Contract

200601 and 240529
Questioned Cost Amount: $0


The objective of the Title I program is to improve the teaching and learning of children
who are at risk of not meeting state academic standards and who reside in areas with
high concentrations of children from low-income families. During fiscal year 2011, the
District spent $371,761 in Title I grant funding, of which $88,894 was paid from the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and school districts annually
review schools served under Title I to determine whether they have made adequate
yearly progress. Districts must identify for improvement any school that fails to make
adequate yearly progress, as defined by OSPI, for two consecutive years. To make
adequate yearly progress, a district must meet state benchmarks including an
unexcused absence rate of 1 percent or less at elementary and middle schools (grades
first through eighth). Schools are responsible for ensuring accurate unexcused absence
data is submitted to OSPI.

Description of Condition

The District uses a web-based system to compile the absentee data it reports to OSPI.
This system displays a "W¨ code when teachers enter absences into the system.
Contrary to the District's policy, two of the four schools within the District have set the
default status to "excused¨. The schools must manually change the status for unexcused
Washington State Auditor's Office
absences. By selecting this default, the risk of reporting inaccurate attendance data
increases. Further, if the District does not follow up on each absence, it may incorrectly
report unexcused absences as excused.

We evaluated the adequacy of the District's system for determining whether absences
are properly recorded as excused or unexcused in accordance with its policy. We also
reviewed absences that were reported as excused in the District's elementary and
primary schools for the 2011 school year. We determined 628 absences were reported
as excused when they should have been unexcused based on the District's policy.

Cause of Condition

By setting its system to automatically designate all absences as excused until the
schools follow up on the cause of the absence, the District did not have adequate
internal controls in place to ensure it accurately reports its unexcused absence rates to
the state. Additionally, the District did not adequately communicate its excused and
unexcused absences policy to all employees who monitor attendance.

Effect of Condition

Without appropriate supporting documentation we cannot verify unexcused absences
reported to OSPI are accurate. Incorrectly reported absences could affect a
determination on whether a school is meeting adequate yearly progress requirements.


We recommend the District establish internal controls to ensure:

x Accurate unexcused absence rates are reported to the state.

x Documentation is maintained to support excused absences and attendance data
reported to the state.

x Absence policies are communicated to all staff responsible for reporting
attendance to ensure these absences are not misclassified.

District's Response

The District has reviewed the cause of the condition and found staff using the
attendance software were unaware that web absences were defaulting to excused rather
than unexcused absences.

As a result of this finding, the District has changed the default setting for web absence
codes in all buildings to unexcused. In addition, the District will be training staff on its
absence and attendance policies to ensure proper procedures are followed and that
appropriate documentation is maintained so support all excused absences.

The district has recalculated the unexcused absence rate for grades 1 through 8 with the
additional 628 unexcused absences. The calculations show that the revised unexcused
absence rate remains below the state benchmark of 1%.

Washington State Auditor's Office
Auditor's Remarks

We appreciate the District's commitment to resolve this finding and thank the District for
its cooperation and assistance during the audit. We will review the corrective action
taken during our next audit.

Applicable laws and Regulations

U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local
Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations, Subpart C, section 300 ÷ Auditee
responsibilities, states in part:

The auditee shall:

(b) Maintain internal control over Federal programs that provides
reasonable assurance that the auditee is managing Federal
awards in compliance with laws, regulations, and the provisions of
contracts or grant agreements that could have a material effect on
each of its Federal programs.

Blaine School District Policy No. 3122 ÷ Excused and Unexcused Absences states in

C. An excused absence shall be verified by a parent/guardian; or an
adult, emancipated or appropriately aged student; or school authority
responsible for the absence. If attendance is taken electronically, either
for a course conducted online or for students physically within the district,
an absence will default to unexcused until such time as an excused
absence may be verified by a parent or other responsible adult

Blaine School District Procedure No. 3122-P ÷ Excused and Unexcused Absences,

Students are expected to attend all assigned classes each day.
Teachers/school staff will keep a record of absence and tardiness,
including documentation of students' excused absences.

Excused Absences

The following are valid excuses for absences and tardiness.
Assignments and/or activities not completed because of an
excused absence or tardiness may be made up in the manner
provided by the teacher.

1. Participation in school-approved activity . . . .
2. Absence due to illness, health condition, family emergency or
religious purposes . . . .
3. Absence for parent-approved activities . . . .
Washington State Auditor's Office
4. Absence resulting from disciplinary actions÷or short-term
suspension . . . .
5. Extended illness or health condition . . . .
6. Excused absence for chronic health condition . . . .

Unexcused absences

Unexcused absences fall into two categories:

1. Submitting a signed excuse which does not constitute an
excused absence as defined previously; or
2. Failing to submit any type of excuse statement signed by the
parent, guardian or adult student . . . .

Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 80.42 - Retention and access
requirements for records, states in part:

(a) Applicability.
(1) This section applies to all financial and programmatic records,
supporting documents, statistical records, and other records of
grantees or subgrantees which are:
(i) Required to be maintained by the terms of this part,
program regulations or the grant agreement, or
(ii) Otherwise reasonably considered as pertinent to
program regulations or the grant agreement . . . .
(b) Length of retention period.

(1) Except as otherwise provided, records must be retained for
three years from the starting date specified in paragraph (c) of this

Revised Code of Washington 28A.225.020 - School's duties upon child's failure to attend
school, states in part:

(2) For purposes of this chapter, an "unexcused absence" means that a

(a) Has failed to attend the majority of hours or periods in an
average school day or has failed to comply with a more restrictive
school district policy; and
(b) Has failed to meet the school district's policy for excused

Washington State Auditor's Office
(3) If a child transfers from one school district to another during the school
year, the receiving school or school district shall include the unexcused
absences accumulated at the previous school or from the previous school
district for purposes of this section, RCW 28A.225.030, and 28A.225.015.

Title 20, United States Code, Section 6316, states in part:

(a) Local review

(1) In general

Each local educational agency receiving funds under this
part shall:

(A) use the State academic assessments and other
indicators described in the State plan to review annually
the progress of each school served under this part to
determine whether the school is making adequate yearly
progress as defined in section 6311(b)(2) of this title[.]

(b) School improvement

(1) General requirements

(A) Identification

Subject to subparagraph (C), a local educational agency
shall identify for school improvement any elementary
school or secondary school served under this part that
fails, for 2 consecutive years, to make adequate yearly
progress as defined in the State's plan under section 6311
(b)(2) of this title.

Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Bulletin 024-10 and 025-11,

As part of the federal "No Child Left Behind¨ legislation, the Office of
Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is required to collect
information on unexcused absences from all schools offering Grades 1÷8.
This information is used to help determine if elementary and middle
schools make adequate yearly progress (AYP) as part of the Title I
accountability system . . .

According to RCW 28A.225.020, an unexcused absence means a student
has not attended a majority of hours or periods in a school day, or has not
complied with a more restrictive district policy, and has not met the
conditions for an excused absence.

Washington State Auditor's Office

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