Investigators are now looking into what the state did with $50 million intended for low-income kids.
Department of Education employee, Bob Metty, was supposed to be making sure only eligible students and schools receive the millions of dollars available through Florida's corporate tax break scholarship program, but last month he caught an employee chopping up faxes from private schools that have been accepting the students for the past year.
“Asked him what are you doing and he said I'm cutting the bottom off these faxes where the fax machine put the dates on them,” says Bob Metty, whistleblower.
The result, Metty says, is no one can verify the schools submitted the proper paperwork in time to qualify for $50 million in vouchers, but Metty was reassigned when he brought his concerns to his superiors. Now he's filed a state whistle-blower complaint.
Florida's corporate voucher program gives businesses a $1 tax credit for every dollar they donate for children to attend private schools. The program is intended to save the state money and give kids a shot at a better education.
We asked state education commissioner Jim Horne whether he's concerned that documents may have been tampered with so private schools could get millions of state dollars.
“We have it under investigation. I do take all of this very seriously and we want to make sure we're serving our constituents the best that we can,” says Horne.
Horne says the department is complying with state law. The question now is whether the law is strong enough to make sure the right schools and the right kids are getting the cash.
The investigation is expected to take at least another month.
This spring, the legislature expanded the corporate tax credit scholarship program from $50 million to $88 million.