(The Center Square) – Governor Kevin Stitt is working with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General to resolve issues with the $39.9 million Emergency Relief Fund grant for the education of the governor.
OIG auditors said four out of five programs did not meet COVID relief grant standards. The Stitt administration is being asked to return more than $650,000 that auditors said was misused by grant recipients.
A program called “Bridge the Gap” was administered under contract with ClassWallet. Families who were 185% below the poverty line could receive up to $1,500 in grants for the purchase of educational items. However, some families purchased televisions, telephones, furniture and other items, according to the audit.
“The state has been proactive in monitoring and ensuring the proper use of Oklahoma taxpayer dollars, and an internal audit was initiated several months ago, which is underway for GEER funds. of Oklahoma,” said Kate Vesper, the governor’s press secretary. “It has been made evident by letters of demand that if it is determined that a provider failed to ensure that funds were properly used or that an individual misappropriated funds received for educational purposes , the State will take prompt and appropriate action.”
The auditors asked the state to “provide documentation, or a full and detailed written explanation, of the process Oklahoma used to determine which initiatives it supported with GEER grant funds and which entities it has been selected to administer the initiatives”.
The only initiative not questioned by listeners was giving $8 million to the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The department used the money to “bridge the digital divide and strengthen distance learning,” according to the report.