Federal grants that support Alexandria’s adult education program have been suspended until an investigation into alleged testing irregularities can be completed, according to a letter state education officials sent to the school system earlier this month.
The frozen funds amount to about $96,000. The entire adult education program is projected to spend about $1.3 million this year, money that comes from local tax dollars and half a dozen state and federal grants.
State officials visited Alexandria last week to review financial, personnel and student records from the adult education program.
Meanwhile, the program is continuing to operate normally, Alexandria schools spokeswoman Kelly Alexander wrote in an e-mail. School officials anticipate that any problems will be resolved “in the very near future,” she wrote.
The investigation was launched in March, when the state reported a number of inconsistencies in Alexandria’s testing and attendance data.
An inexplicable number of students, for example, received the exact same score on an exam that the federal government requires of its grant recipients. And records showed that one teacher had delivered 95 oral exams – each of which generally takes 15 to 20 minutes – on one day in July 2011, a feat that would have required three full days (eight hours a day, with 15 minutes for lunch).
In late March, Alexandria placed one adult education employee on administrative leave, and Superintendent Morton Sherman said the school system would conduct its own investigation as well as cooperate with state officials.
At the time, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said that the program’s federal grant funds were at stake.