Fairfax schools to repay federal money over falsified grant documents

Fairfax County Public Schools has agreed to repay the federal government $1 million after an internal investigation revealed that grant documents had been falsified.

The settlement ends an eight-year legal discussion concerning a multimillion-dollar-grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund programs for about 1,200 underprivileged children.

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The case began in 2000, when the school system applied for the grant to help fund the Gear Up career-awareness program for at-risk students at Glasgow Middle School.

The Education Department awarded it $2.7 million, to be disbursed over five years.

Glasgow used the money to sponsor career fairs for students. According to an Education Department report, the program brought in airline pilots, police officers, a member of Congress and a Washington Redskins football coach to speak to students about careers.

At the time, more than half of the students enrolled at Glasgow qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, an indicator of poverty.

In 2004, an audit by the school system found that the grant application included forged signatures and other falsified documents, said John Torre, a schools spokesman.

The school system suspended use of the $1.6 million it had already received and reported the issue to the Education Department.

As a result of the internal probe, Fairfax County Public Schools amended its application procedures for grants to include more oversight. The employee who was responsible for the falsifications left the school system in 2003.

The $1 million settlement includes funds repaid to the government as well as penalties.

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