Audit: Quasi-military school didn't have proper oversight

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new audit released Thursday says a residential, quasi-military program for high school dropouts failed to document how it spent tens of thousands of dollars, didn't always provide the recommended amount of food to cadets and lacked proper oversight of educational services.

The audit found several flaws with financial controls, educational standards and program effectiveness at the state-run Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, which provides military-based training, education and other programming.

The academy failed to account for more than $86,000 in funds from cadets' families and fundraising activities, the audit said, and families were given conflicting information about whether any money left over from the $100 for each cadet's incidental expenses could be refunded.

The audit also found the school lacked documentation showing cadets completed core tasks and didn't have standardized expectations. Some cadets, for example, were allowed to show mastery of basic banking skills by filling out a blank check, while others had to complete an entire course on the subject.

The academy contracted with Marshall Public Schools for its educational services, but could not monitor compliance because it did not keep a copy of the contract. As a result, the academy did not know the status of the education budget and could not make decisions about classroom improvements, the audit said.

Food operations at the academy were not reviewed on a regular basis from October 2011 through the end of 2014. Male cadets did not always receive the recommended amount of calories in the meals they were given, the audit said.

The academy is run in part by the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The department says "a new director was appointed, a new financial management plan was established, and program effectiveness metrics were adopted" in response to the audit's findings.



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