Florida releases second round of audits for school choice organization

Travis Pillow

For the second year, the nonprofits that administer Florida’s tax credit scholarship program opened their books to state auditors.

This year’s audit report for Step Up For Students, released this morning, doesn’t show any major financial problems.

It does note one issue involving compliance with state rules. It says the organization did not receive written confirmation from parents that they had informed their local school districts they’d be leaving for private schools.

This school year, the Florida tax credit scholarship program helps more than 94,000 mostly low-income students pay private school tuition. Audit records show 8,255 students who received scholarships from Step Up during the 2015-16 school year had attended a public school the prior year.

Scholarship applications remind these parents to inform their districts that their children will be leaving public schools. But auditors noted the scholarship funding organization did not seek written statements from parents confirming they had done so. Without those statements, the auditors wrote, the organization had “limited assurance that the parent informed the student’s school district that the child will be attending an eligible private school.”

In their responses to the auditors, Step Up indicated it would update its procedures to get written confirmation from parents, and improve its organizational processes to make sure they kept up with rules approved by the Florida Board of Education. (Step Up also publishes this blog and pays my salary.)

A state law passed in 2014 requires the audits for all nonprofit organizations that administer tax credit scholarships or Gardiner scholarships for special needs students. One other organization, the AAA Scholarship Foundation, falls under the audit requirement.

The full audit report is available here.

You may also like