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SLED now conducting interviews in FDTC inquiry

(WPDE)

The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is now conducting interviews into an inquiry into allegations of misappropriations of funds at Florence Darlington Technical College (FDTC), according to SLED Communications Director Thom Berry.

"The work is continuing. We are conducting interviews," said Berry.

A college employee told us SLED agents were at the school Monday. They didn't go into any further details about the agents' visit.

Berry released the following statement last month on the inquiry:

"Right now we are conducting a preliminary inquiry. That means we are looking at the allegations and determining whether any criminal laws could have been violated. It's the first step we take as there are times when we are asked to conduct an investigation and find that no criminal law has been broken, perhaps only an administrative policy violated."

FDTC officials aren't commenting on the SLED inquiry at this time.

Meanwhile, FDTC has to pay back $1,661,939 to the U.S. Department of Education following a review of FDTC's Title IV programs involving federal student aid, according to officials with the U.S. Department of Education.

Officials said the U.S. Education Department issued a Final Program Review Determination (FPRD) on Dec. 18 to FDTC’s President Ben Dillard.

The correspondence dated Dec. 18, 2017 included the final determinations concerning all of the outstanding findings of the program review report.

The FRPD represents the department's findings and conclusions stemming from a program review initiated at FDTC in March 2016 and incorporating the institution's responses to the department's May 2016 program review report.

The department said the "focus of the review was to determine FDTC's compliance with the statutes and federal regulations as they pertain to the institution's administration of Title IV programs for award years 2014–15 and 2015–16. The review consisted of, but was not limited to, an examination of FDTC's policies and procedures regarding institutional and student eligibility, individual student financial aid and academic files, attendance records, student account ledgers and fiscal records."

The department sent us the following statement about the FPRD's findings:

In summary, of the five main areas of non-compliance originally cited in the department's program review report, three were rectified via corrective actions and/or through the institutional response, but two remained open and documented in the FPRD. Those two main findings included calculated liabilities in the amount of $1,661,939 due from the institution to the department.

FDTC can appeal in writing within 45 days from the date FDTC received the FPRD.

FDTC Attorney Mark Buyck III said the college hadn't been audited in more than 20 years and wasn't the only higher education institution that was audited from the U.S. Department of Education.

The audit found the school wasn't in compliance with federal student financial aid regulations.

Buyck said the college will repay the money over three years. He said it's also implemented new practices that shouldn't allow the mistake to happen again.

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