The Centralia School District (CSD) recently agreed to pay the Washington Health Care Authority a settlement sum totaling $372,000. Why is CSD forking over the six figure settlement? Because the district fraudulently managed Medicaid Administrative Match, a state program that “reimburses schools for time spent for referring eligible students and their families to Medicaid.”
The Medicaid Fraud unit of the state Attorney General’s office investigated the CSD over the course of a year. After interviewing over 50 witnesses, investigators discovered that the district “knowingly filed scores of false time study forms to obtain MAC reimbursement payments it was not legally entitled to receive.”
The Washington Policy Center points out that a letter from the state Attorney General “states that the principal of Centralia Middle School, Greg Domingos, encouraged participants to ‘manufacture reimbursable activities on time study days in order to generate funds for the school.’” The letter goes on to state that CSD officials ‘knowingly submitted false time study forms.’”
The investigation resulted in the departure of five Centralia School District administrators, including Superintendent Steve Bodnar and Director of Teaching and Learning Scott Nieman. However, Washington school districts have not seen the last of the deceitful officials. Four of the five disgraced officials have already found new positions in other school districts.
As for any real disciplinary measures? The prospect seems unlikely.
“Centralia’s new superintendent, Steve Warren, will be conducting his own investigations to determine what disciplinary actions are warranted. He will find his job much harder to perform because of the excessive job protections written into law which protect bad school principals (RCW 28A.405.245) and bad teachers (RCW 28A.405.100 et seq.). These job protections help create an environment and culture in some places, like Centralia Middle School, where administrators and teachers think nothing of falsifying time cards to defraud Medicaid.”