The Pulse

State education officials respond to GOP leader’s allegations of misusing funds

By: - February 4, 2016 12:45 pm
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

One day after N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson responded to aggressive questioning by at least one Senate Republican about allegations of misusing funds, state education officials explained themselves in a letter to Senate President Phil Berger, Policy Watch has learned.

In the letter, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey and Atkinson stated that they used state funds budgeted for literacy programs exactly as they were ordered, extending increased literacy programs to approximately 487,000 students in the state.

WRAL reported Monday that Berger accused DPI leaders of agreeing during a “secret meeting” to use literacy funds to head off personnel losses ordered by legislators in 2012’s Excellent Public Schools Act.

The state’s official response included a summary of  $2.5 million in position cuts at DPI as a result of state budgeting.

They also responded to Berger’s accusation of taking said actions in closed session meeting, which would have been a violation of the state’s open meetings law.

“We regret that the information you received is incorrect about the Open Meetings Law,” the letter read. “We are available to discuss this issue further. You can be assured that our goal is the same as yours—to quickly and significantly improve reading achievement and growth for all North Carolina students.”

The letter mirrors Atkinson’s comments in Tuesday’s Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee session, in which she repeatedly assured Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Wake County Republican, that DPI officials had done nothing wrong.

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Billy Ball

Billy Ball, worked at NC Policy Watch from 2016 to 2020 — first as an education reporter and later as managing editor.