Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Dems: Audit Confirms Worst Fears
Sioux Falls, SD (March 22, 2016)-
A federally mandated audit of South Dakota’s GEAR UP grant programs has indicated a severe lack of oversight and institutional control at the South Dakota Department of Education which allowed for conflict of interest violations to occur ultimately resulting in the fraudulent waste of over $1 million tax payer dollars.
“When you begin to peal back the layers of this scandal, it just keeps getting uglier and uglier. Whether it was negligence or incompetence, there needs to be dramatic changes in state government to make sure these tragedies don’t occur again,” said South Dakota Communications Director Michael Ewald.
This session, Democrats proposed multiple pieces of legislation aimed at combating conflict of interest violations. All were defeated on party lines including HB 1220 which would have rescinded the waiver which allowed the Department of Education to use GEAR UP grant funds for discretionary purposes rather than the mandated requirement of college scholarships
“Even after the loss of $1 million dollars, the Department of Education insisted we should trust them to administer these funds. Based on today’s report – I am highly skeptical of their ability or intention to administer these programs competently,” said Ewald.