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First Nations seeking audit of school district spending

The chiefs of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band want a closer look at how School District 57 is spending money earmarked for its Indigenous students.
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The chiefs of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band want a closer look at how School District 57 is spending money earmarked for its Indigenous students.

In a statement issued Monday, they say their communities have sent millions of dollars to SD 57 over the past two decades but the information they have received about how that money has been spent has been "anything but transparent, or stated with accountability."

They say SD 57 has failed to live up to a requirement to report annually on how it has spent funds designated for on-reserve students. They also want to know more about how core funding for off-reserve students is being used.

They also cite lower graduation rates for indigenous students as a reason, saying the rate over the last five years has ranged from 39 to 52 per cent, compared to 67 to 79 per cent for SD 57 students as a whole.

“Our education teams keep asking for details about how the funds we send each year are spent, and all we have received so far is correspondence in ‘draft’ form," MLIB deputy chief Jayde Duranleau said in the statement.

LTN Dayi Clay Pountney said an audit covering the last seven years would be reasonable.

In a response, SD 57 board chair Trent Derrick confirmed a letter seeking an audit has been received.

Derrick said the school district's financial statements are audited and submitted to the Ministry of Education and, in the past few years, additional reporting on how targeted Indigenous funding received by SD 57 is spent is also provided.

"At this time, the District is working to determine the scope and nature of the request as well as to establish who will cover the expenses attached to this endeavor," Derrick said.

In both the statement and the response, the term "forensic audit" is used. According to Bizfluent.com, the results of a forensic audit must meet the standards for presentation in court.

"Forensic audits relate directly to an issue defined by the audit client. This issue may involve employee fraud or a dispute with a vendor or customer," the website also says.