The mediated agreement announced last week allowing Baltimore schools to keep $18 million in federal funds for low-income students that state auditors said had been misused is welcome, but it's hardly an exoneration. While city school officials don't have to replace all the money, they must give low-income students additional services as well as improve internal controls. That's a fair resolution - and school officials must live up to it.
The dispute came to light in July 2004 when state auditors found that from 2001 to 2004, city school officials had used some of the federal funds - known as Title 1 funds - for standard services, instead of the extra tutoring and other special services that the federal money is meant to provide. While no fraud was alleged, poor record-keeping by the city school system was certainly an issue. And the state's audit came as Baltimore schools were reeling from the discovery of a $58 million deficit, another instance of poor record-keeping, among other things.