Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Warns Metro Nashville Public Schools on Federal Funds


Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn warned Metro Nashville Public School officials this week that serious consequences await if they do not account for $110 million in federal aid.

Schwinn warned MNPS officials in a letter dated Monday.

“MNPS has significant balances available that have not been drawn down since last summer (2020), as well as federal funding still available from the previous fiscal year,” Schwinn wrote.

“These balances are close to $110 million when reviewing all federal funds together.”

Schwinn said that MNPS officials have not utilized grants for the purposes that federal officials intended. She also said that federal officials intended that these funds serve students in vulnerable populations, including students with disabilities and students who attend high-risk schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Schwinn’s letter, state education agencies cannot continue to award money to subrecipients who do not comply with federal rules.

Schwinn told MNPS officials that they have 30 days to provide a corrective action plan “that reflects how MNPS will address issues with documentation, timeliness of requesting funds, and allowability.”

“I cannot underscore enough the seriousness of the current financial management of federal funds and compliance issues in MNPS,” Schwinn wrote.

“It is imperative that these issues be resolved quickly, accurately, and comprehensively, so as to provide students with the resources that they need and to move the district to a space of compliance with federal and state law.”

Schwinn, in her letter, also said that her program and fiscal teams have worked with MNPS staff for more than a year, “providing technical assistance, extensions, and training on dozens of occasions.”

“MNPS identified your fiscal accounting system as one of the key challenges in being able to accurately and effectively distribute and manage your available funds,” Schwinn wrote.

“However, the issues with your financial accounting system that were prevalent last January (2020) continue to be of serious concern in 2021.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]









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One Thought to “Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Warns Metro Nashville Public Schools on Federal Funds”

  1. 83ragtop50

    No surprise here. This is the district that handed out laptop computers like candy then failed to recover a very large percentage at the end of the 2020 spring school term. First of all those not returning the equipment are thieves clear and simple. But, if memory serves correctly, the district shrug it off and said that insurance would pay for the losses. Now that is a great way to run a public institution.