LAREDO MORNING TIMES:Report: TMC failed to inform stakeholders, assess impact of relocation from Laredo to San Antonio
Report: TMC failed to inform stakeholders, assess impact of relocation from Laredo to San Antonio
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The Texas Migrant Council, TMC, Board of Directors discuss TMC's funding on Saturday afternoon at the TMC corporate offices.
A monitoring review conducted by the Administration for Children and Families states that the Teaching and Mentoring Communities board of directors failed to inform stakeholders and assess the financial impact of relocating its headquarters from Laredo to San Antonio.
TMC, formerly known as the Texas Migrant Council, proposed the relocation early this year. U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar called the proposal a misuse of taxpayers dollars and said it would cut critical services and local jobs.
TMC had said at the time that the cost of its lease was too expensive and that San Antonio was a more convenient location.
But the monitoring review states that "there was no evidence to indicate the (TMC) board of directors engaged in a determination of costs associated with the relocation project in comparison to costs of staying in the current Laredo location."
"When asked for evidence of a cost analysis, neither the (then-interim CEO) nor the board was able to produce documents that sufficiently outlined the proposed move," the report states.
During the monitoring review in February of TMC's Migrant Seasonal Head Start program, the Administration for Children and Families identified four deficiencies and nine areas of non-compliance with federal regulations, financial management systems, cost principles and procurement.
On Wednesday, TMC received a notice of termination of its Head Start grant programs after it failed to correct all the deficiencies noted in the monitoring review. The nation's largest provider of educational services for migrant students and their families has 30 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Departmental Appeals Board.
According to the monitoring review, TMC did not ensure all staff, consultants, contractors and volunteers abided by standards of conduct requiring them to comply with confidentiality policies.
The review states that the then-interim CEO of TMC disclosed the names and individual votes of the TMC Policy Council members to staff and parents. The votes of the council, which is comprised of community members, related to an amended Head Start grant application.
"Following the release of names to the public, the Office of Head Start received a series of complaints through the complaint line of threats, humiliation and intimidation of Policy Council members and parents who voted against the grant application by other parents and board members," the report states.
The report added that a review of the council roster showed that the members who voted against the amended grant application were no longer listed as members.
Lack of training
Another area of non-compliance was TMC not ensuring appropriate training and technical assistance was provided to the Policy Council, according to the monitoring review. The council's president and another member told the Administration for Children and
Families that they were in their second term and had not received training on the roles and responsibilities of serving on the council.
"In an interview, Policy Council members reported that they did not understand many of the documents they received," the review states. "They also reported a lack of understanding of their role to support programming for all parents of the (Head Start) program."
The Administration for Children and Families said TMC also did not comply with requirements when it hired an interim CEO without the use of a competitive process or prior approval from the regional office.
In another instance, TMC "incurred a fee due to failure to comply with federal regulations," the monitoring review states. TMC had to pay $10,000 to the U.S. Treasury to enter the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program, which was designed to encourage employers to comply voluntarily with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by self-correcting certain violations of the law. The $10,000 fee that TMC paid due to its failure to comply with the act was allocated to Head Start grants, the review states.
Another deficiency noted by the Administration for Children and Families was that TMC did not ensure costs incurred to defend itself in administrative proceedings were not charged to Head Start. TMC had hired outside legal counsel and paid them $18,537.
Laredo Morning Times sought comment from TMC for this story. Questions were directed to Dan Liskai, chair of the TMC board of directors. He could not be reached for comment.