Morelle calls for U.S. Justice Dept. to investigate the city school district's finance

3 hours ago

Credit Office of Rep. Joe Morelle

Congressman Joe Morelle is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate “ongoing financial and operational troubles” of the Rochester City School District.

Morelle’s letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr comes after the district recently said that it found a discrepancy during a routine audit, and may have overspent its budget for the 2018-19 school year.

District officials did not immediately have details on how much that overspending may have amounted to, but on Saturday the Democrat & Chronicle reported that four people with direct knowledge of the situation revealed that district officials are dealing with about a $50 million shortfall.

In his letter to the Justice Department released on Sunday, Morelle references the reported budget gap, and says that it “only serves to raise further alarm and frustration within our community as RCSD has already been cited by the New York State Education Department (NYSDE) as needing to undertake a total reset in the way in which it operates.”

Morelle writes that “the District’s continued failings ultimately amount to students in the City of Rochester, the vast majority of whom are students of color, being denied their fundamental right to an equal and adequate education.”

Morelle, a Democrat who represents the 25th Congressional District, says it is his hope that the DOJ might intervene to “ensure justice for our students and their families. 

The city school district did not have an immediate comment, but may have a response on Monday.