South Bend Community School Corp. officials got those orders last Thursday from the Indiana Department of Education, which found the Parent Academy to be out of compliance with the rules of Title I funding.
That amount would have to come from somewhere else in the corporation’s budget. The corporation still has access to the money, as long as it’s for another purpose. One idea, Herring said, is to use it for the staff’s professional development.
“I don’t think we should bend so easily,” school board President Roger Parent responded at a special meeting Wednesday of the board. “We better call our attorneys.”
And call U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly’s office, added trustee Jay Caponigro.
The program was due to end June 10 because its two-year federal stimulus grant is running out, Herring said.
Parent Academy has two parts. It affects 112 parents now in Helping Hands, where they are paid $10 an hour to help out throughout the schools -- from lunchrooms to classrooms -- along with the 83 parents in Parent University, which gives them a $250 stipend for attending 10 classes, Herring said.
Herring said the violation is that Title I, which supports low-income students, doesn’t allow parents to be paid to work in the classroom -- not unless they are highly qualified to do so. Also, they cannot be paid for the training, she said.
But that was all part of the plans that the Indiana DOE approved when Parent Academy began in the fall semester of 2009, she said.
School officials thought that it had been OK’d for two years. Then they were surprised that they had to reapply for the second year. The program continued this year as it went through the approval process. State officials kept asking questions until they decided last week that the program was out of compliance.
At first, she said, state officials said South Bend would lose all of the funding of more than $2 million.
Then, she said, “They said they would take (financial) responsibility for the first year, and we’d take responsibility for the second year.”
The program’s 12 parent support specialists and its full-time coordinator, James Husband, will still have jobs, at least until the end of the school year. Their responsibilities have been rewritten so that they fall in line with Title I rules, Herring said.
Staff writer Joseph Dits: