Puyallup Herald

Puyallup School District incorrectly reported high school graduation rate, audit finds

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Puyallup School District did not comply with federal grant requirements for reporting high school graduation rates, the state Auditor’s Office has found.

The Washington State Auditor concluded that records of transfer students were not being counted into the graduation rate as they should have been, auditors Mark Rapozo and Felicia DenAdel told The News Tribune on Wednesday.

Puyallup is one of at least 17 other Washington school districts that failed to follow federal data requirements on graduation rates. Washington’s graduation rate, 79.4 percent, is lower than the federal standard, 89.6 percent. Puyallup School District was 87.9 percent in 2018.

Of the 11 students in the PSD sample size, one student’s graduation at a technical college after transferring from Puyallup School District was not counted.

“We consider this control deficiency to be a significant deficiency,” the audit reported.

The district is expected to report whether students graduated, transferred out, dropped out, migrated or died. The staff was unaware of the documentation to show a transferred student had enrolled in another school and graduated there.

The district spent more than $2.6 million in federal funds last year, but the error did not cost the district access to funding, Rapozo and DenAdel said.

The school district disagreed in its response to the audit that the oversight was not adequate. A PSD employee was called by the technical college about the student transfer. They noted the technical college school and date of the phone conversation, but did not follow training procedures to request records, the district said in a statement.

“The District will continue to work with all schools on the proper handling of transfer requests,” the district said in its response to the audit.

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.