Systemic fraud and corruption plagues school districts across the state of Tennessee with limited to no oversight by elected officials. It’s time for legislators to get serious about education reform in Tennessee, leading to greater transparency and accountability from school boards, central offices and school administrators. Citizens who pay an ever-increasing portion of taxes for education in Tennessee are owed that respect and dignity by their elected officials, at minimum. Some examples of this corruption were exposed in recent Hamilton County School Board meetings along with earlier known issues, including:
- Corrupt hidden school lotteries for magnet schools, with parents paying $5,000 per student in an alleged pay-to-play scheme for children from a select group of neighborhoods apparently given special advantages over those in minority communities nearby. Open records requests were made directly to the HCDE central office, leading not to a positive response, but instead to a change in policies to hide its manipulative actions. Additional open records requests were filed to expose the hidden lottery process, none of which were satisfied by law. This act should have had further investigation for the apparent lawlessness of the pay-to-play scheme. Another question - how were those apparently extorted funds from favored parents spent? Did they find their way back to the Central Office?
- The well know multi-million dollar CREAM SCHEME fraud (30MM stolen) that ended up in Federal Court as a group consisting of Principals/Administrators and others were convicted of embezzling taxpayer funds by defrauding health insurer BlueCross BlueShield. This fraud was uncovered by the insurance company, NOT by anyone on the School Board, in the Central Office nor any school staff in the district. Why? Because the entire system lacks transparency. The state has created an enormous funding hole that unscrupulous bureaucrats can exploit with little oversight.
- Recent firsthand reports of students living outside of Hamilton County being driven into the district to catch buses and allowed, if not actively and unethically encouraged, to attend Hamilton County schools, confirmed by bus drivers.
- Compounding the out-of-district attendee issue are reports of ILLEGAL aliens (they are not legal immigrants) flooding into Tennessee public schools as administrators attempt to hide their numbers, thereby violating state law. A recent post by Laura Grier of HCDE (below ) tells principals to ignore state requirements and immediately register ILLEGALS in Hamilton County Schools. This demonstrates a fraudulent act by HCDE administration to steal from Tennessee taxpayers by telling Principals NOT to enforce ID and LEGAL STATUS rules to attend the Hamilton County Public School system. Tennessee Citizens are required to provide two forms of identification for their child(ren) to attend state taxpayer-funded schools under state law. THIS IS FRAUD against Tennessee taxpayers. Here is the email:
As you see Ms. Grier’s message misleads about using the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act and erroneously mislabels them as migrants. Ms Grier please tell us which farms or fields these allegedly MIGRANT kids are going to harvest? When do they migrate home, if they are such migrants? They are also NOT refugees, fleeing conflict war zones. They are not homeless, and this appears to be an abuse of this act and, I am told, would not likely withstand challenges in court.
This email entails nothing more than weasel words to help divide our community, push mass open borders socialist/communist policies to destabilize America and push an anti-American agenda while thwarting state and federal laws. This demonstrates the hyper-hypocrisy in recent school board meetings where poser progressive school board members, with their CAMERA-READY MASK PHOTO OP, pushed authoritarian mask mandates on kids and faculty in the same breath as they send secret messages to Principals to let all ILLEGAL KIDS into Tennessee schools with NO ID, NO GUARDIAN and NO VACINES AT ALL. This just shows her pure disdain for the safety and security of the taxpaying citizens’ children as they flood illegals from 3rd world counties with confirmed cases of measles, malaria, COVID and tuberculosis and more into our community schools. This clearly disrespects the children of Tennessee citizens and is literally stealing precious school funding to benefit those who have no allegiance to our nation, our state and our community. https://tennesseestar.com/2021/09/22/afghan-refugees-bringing-numerous-diseases-to-u-s-including-measles-malaria-and-tuberculosis/
Taken altogether, this is FRAUD in the billions of dollars.
To more clearly illustrate the problem, bothTennCare and Tennessee Department of Education programs are state programs that require the same fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Tennessee. Under the law, unauthorized use of TennCare by an unqualified participant is a FELONY. The problem is compounded with the BEP formula to determine the school district budgets based on the number of students attending our public schools. However, school districts are not being honest, as it appears they are supplanting children of lawful Tennessee resident citizens with ILLEGAL non-citizens who pay NO TAX.
Tennessee school districts have an obligation to track and report ILLEGALS attending Tennessee state-funded public schools, as this creates an undue burden on the American citizen/ Tennessee taxpayer. These ILLEGALS are also stealing opportunities from minority communities or open slots in various programs.
Let me stress that the issue isn’t the illegals themselves, but those in our own local, state and national governments who are using them as political pawns to directly undermine the rights of citizens. This is nothing less than a direct attack on American citizens and Tennessee taxpayers, and there MUST be a public accounting for it.
The left will argue the Supreme Court allows Illegals to attend public schools. However, the court doesn’t fund those schools and there are a number of Constitutional separation of powers and States Rights issues here. Tracking the numbers of ILLEGALS in public schools DOES NOT violate the Court’s decision. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) gives states the right to DENY certain education to ILLEGALS and or make them pay for it.
There are also avenues the state can exercise, like disconnecting from the US Department of Education and managing education locally (as states did up to the 1978 formation of US Department of Education – and, one can convincingly argue, the quality of education in this nation has declined ever since ). This breaks all relationships/oversight/regulations with the US Department of Education (which on its face is an unconstitutional organization). This allows states to take back control and run their education as they see fit.
The recent FLOOD of ILLEGALS into our country is not sustainable on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers. It’s time for states to flex their muscles against the lawlessness of the Federal Government. If the Federal Government is going to pick and choose which laws to enforce, states have to the right to pick up the mantle with their own, creating new agencies to enforce non-citizen trespassing and public funding abuse laws, provide primary schools only for ILLEGALS with limited schooling and services beyond which they must pay themselves. Tennessee is not a dumping ground with a bottomless bank account for educating non-citizens from around the world.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on fraud and abuse in the state school system. The list continues and is not confined to Hamilton County, but includes Davidson, Williamson, Shelby, Knox and others whose citizens have reported similar issues.
It’s time for greater transparency into school districts across the state of Tennessee and to push for the Office of Inspector General to broaden its duties (or create a new law enforcement office) to include audits and enforcement of state laws in school districts across the state. The Office of Inspector General duties currently include TennCare fraud with the ability to arrest, investigate and prosecute such fraud in the state of Tennessee. This includes administrators, participants and providers in TennCare who show evidence of criminally defrauding the system. https://www.tn.gov/finance/fa-oig.html
TheTennCare budget in 2020-2021 is $42.6 billion. The Tennessee Dept of Education budget in 2020-2021 is $41.8 Billion that is used to fund school districts across the state, not to include local County budgets that also contribute school funding . Yet there is NO organized oversight into these massive school board budgets, how they are used, who is getting the money, etc. Tennessee state law requires school boards to vote up/down on approval of local school board budgets and to set policies for the school district. However, the distribution of funds is all done by the superintendent of the school district and the respective central office . For any taxpayer to see how the funds are spent/distributed requires a series of open records requests. In the meantime, they do everything they can to stonewall and hide their actions. It’s time we reform education in the State of Tennessee and bring school districts across the state under the office of inspector general for public oversight and reporting. Additionally, it’s time to put the County School Board Check Registers online for every parent/taxpayer to review in real time as other states (such as Texas) have done. This helps ensure transparency and accountability, and citizens would be able to directly view distribution of funds and expenditures are being appropriately distributed and reconcile with the school district’s budget.
This transparency will also help teachers understand why they might not get a raise, because the monies were diverted to administrative bureaucracy and away from the core mission of teaching. It also helps underscore the total return on investment per student with test score outcomes. Why do private schools, homeschools and other deliver quality outcomes at a much lower cost? It’s because of the waste, fraud and abuse hidden in the black box of the Tennessee Department of Education and county district education departments. It’s time to bring them into the light!