Former Joplin Schools superintendent responds to audit

We also break down the numbers

JOPLIN, Mo. – Former Joplin Schools Superintendent Dr. CJ Huff speaks out about the audit involving the district and Federal funding it received for disaster recovery.

We first brought you the results of the audit, which says inadequate management and oversight jeopardized $187 million in FEMA grant funds. So let’s break down where that number comes from.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, or OIG, the district originally claimed $218.5 million in disaster related costs, which was $65.8 million more than the FEMA award. The $218 million is all inclusive, of every disaster expense the district had.

That number would ultimately be reduced following insurance payments and other grants and donations. FEMA awarded the district $152.7 million, which according to Dr. Ron Lankford, the district gets 75% of, which was around $121 million. The report recommended FEMA improve its management and oversight of the grant process, and not allow $187.3 million in ineligible costs claimed by the district. Lankford said despite that, FEMA still did provide the funding.

We did reach out to Joplin’s former Superintendent, Dr. CJ Huff. Huff is now a public speaker and education consultant. He provided a statement to us about the audit, stating he wasn’t even aware of the audit or it’s results until late Tuesday night.

His statement goes on to say “All I can tell you is that we did our very best under the circumstances of the time and that we worked with FEMA and SEMA every day, every step of the way to try to do things right within a complicated Federal bureaucracy and the paper work that comes with it.” In terms of the recovery and if he would do some things differently, Dr. Huff said “absolutely, but not with regard to what we were able to provide our students, staff and community.”

In the end, the audit had nine recommendations, all directed at the Region VII Director of FEMA, focused on recommending FEMA deny certain reimbursements requested by the district and to improve it’s oversight of public assistance grants, as well as work with Missouri SEMA to improve their own policies and oversight.

Click here for the previous story.

Click here for the complete audit.