The Federal Communications Commissionís (FCC) E-Rate Audits began as scheduled in December 2008. The FCC, through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the E-Rate program and has contracted with private firms to conduct the audits of the discount rates given to schools. Specifically, auditors can ask for a list of students eligible for free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) who are enrolled in the selected schools.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that release of this information to private auditors is permitted under section 9(b)(6) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA).
As long as the audit protocols below are followed, local education agencies (LEAs) may share individual childrenís information with authorized FCC auditors. The applicable protocols are:
1. compare aggregate enrollment data with aggregate free and reduced price eligibility data;
2. for a SMALL sample of eligible students, request the student source documents used to determine eligibility, such as meal applications, direct certification records or other categorical eligible lists (for example: Migrant or Homeless list);
3. confirm that an application or other documentation exists for each selected student; and
4. prohibit auditors from retaining/keeping copies of personal student information.
FCC auditors CANNOT contact households or other sources (such as assistance agencies or employers) to confirm the information on the application or other source document. However, FCC auditors may:
1. ensure the information on the application was accurately processed; i.e., that the income and the number of persons in the household were totaled correctly and that the appropriate Income Eligibility Guideline was used;
2. confirm the students listed on LEA Food Service Department Master Roster as eligible for free or reduced price meals have approved applications or other source documents on file (source documents are the original paper documents NOT computer records); and
3. confirm that the number of children used for statistical purposes is based on approved applications.
Any discrepancies in these areas must be brought to the attention of the LEA and the Child Nutrition Unit (CNU) or the Arkansas Department of Education.
Contact the school districtís CNU Area Specialist with any questions at 501-324-9502.