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Federal Audit Finds Baltimore City Schools Misused Federal Stimulus, Title I Funds

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A federal audit finds stimulus dollars intended for Baltimore City Schools is spent on things far from the classroom.

Christie Ileto explains where your tax dollars went.

The audit shows federal stimulus, Title I dollars, went to dinner cruises, makeovers and meals and now, state lawmakers and parents want answers from the school district.

The report shows stimulus dollars intended to improve education at Baltimore City Schools didn't go directly to the classroom.

"Anytime there's an audit of Title I dollars, you're going to see errors at the school level because schools spend money for what they need, and then sometimes they worry about if it fits the parameter of the grant later," said Baltimore City Schools CEO Andres Alonso.

The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing expenses from 2009 and 2010 that showed more than $4300 were used on dinner cruises, more than $2400 for PTA meals at a meeting to discuss the budget, $1300 to attend a theater performance and $500 on a mother/daughter makeover.

"We're talking $15 million out of $112 million, and what we see are school events to engage parents, but when the auditors came to look at it they said, 'Wait a second. This should have been paid out of general funds, rather than Title I," said Alonso.

But that's little comfort to parents.

"I'm appalled this sort of stuff is going down because you can't educate the children by taking things for your own pleasures," said George Downs.

"It's mismanagement. It's negligent," said Del. Pat McDonough.

The victim, state lawmakers said, in all of this are Maryland taxpayers and Baltimore City school children.

"Funding for some of Baltimore's neediest children was simply squandered and transparency requirements were completely disregarded. This abuse of tax dollars is one example of why many Americans mistrust government," said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger in a statement.

"Who's responsible? There needs to be a serious investigation," said McDonough.

"Of course we don't want schools to make mistakes, but I think error is a little different than the way it's being portrayed," said McDonough.

But parents said mistakes shouldn't be made when it comes to their child's education.

The U.S. Department of Education also found similar misspending in Prince George's County Schools.

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