- Policy & Research
- About KHI
May 11, 2012
TOPEKA The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services today accused an advocacy group for the physically disabled of misspending state and federal monies.
Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for SRS, said the agency is preparing a “demand letter,” directing the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas to pay back almost $520,000.
“We expect it (the letter) to go out early next week,” de Rocha said.
The demand stems from a recent audit conducted by SRS’ Office of Audit and Consulting Services. The audit period was from July 2008 to June 2010.
“We found solid evidence of serious management problems that need to be addressed by the SILCK board,” de Rocha said. “The basic problem – the recurring theme, if you will – is that they’ve spent money and they can’t account for how they’ve spent it.”
SRS shared the audit with SILCK’s 13-member board of directors on Thursday.
SILCK Executive Director Shannon Jones disputed the audit findings.
“The board met this morning and I’ve been told that I’m to have only one response – and this is all I’m going to say,” Jones said. “I am pleased that SRS only took 15 days to issue its final report. This will help SILCK expedite our appeal process. We’ll be filing an appeal with the administrative hearing officer and after that, district court.”
SILCK has two employees, Jones and an administrative assistant, and a 13-member board of directors.
According to SRS’ findings, SILCK “did not have controls required to achieve compliance” with federal accounting standards, did not require two signatures on checks for more than $1,000, did not do enough to prevent state and federal monies from being spent on lobbying, and should not have paid Jones’ mileage from her home in Kansas City to Topeka.
The audit includes an April 25 letter from Jones, stating that “throughout the time under review, SILCK has operated with the one desire of speaking for and in behalf of persons with disabilities in Kansas. We have done that in keeping with the provisions of the federal and state guidelines as we understood them. SILCK files reports with SRS and KRS (SRS’ Kansas Rehabilitation Services) on a regular basis.
“It was the thinking of SILCK that if there was at any time in the period under review when SILCK was deficient, we would have been notified by SRS/KRS that there were areas needing attention. SILCK would have moved immediately to make corrections.”
Jones, an outspoken advocate, has often testified against SRS policies that allow lengthy waiting lists for services designed to help people with disabilities live in community settings rather than institutions. She’s also led efforts to encourage people on the waiting list to file civil rights complaints with the federal government.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it had turned over its investigation of the complaints to the Department of Justice, which signaled that the state may be sued in federal court.
In earlier interviews, Jones has told KHI News Service that if SILCK has to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars, it would be forced to close.
The audit, de Rocha was, was unrelated to Jones’ activism.
“There is no connection whatsoever,” she said.
SRS, she said, has been conducting similar audits on the 12 independent living centers in Kansas.
“We’ve completed our fifth,” she said. “We have seven more to go.”
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.