Another day, another audit for Paris 95


Members of the Paris 95 Board of Education felt an all-too-familiar dread during a Monday, June 10 meeting. Another grant awarded to the district has been audited, and Paris 95 may be on the hook for another hefty sum of funds.

Superintendent of Schools Lorraine Bailey notified the board of the audit after receiving a notice from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) the week prior.

The grant in question is one of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) series of grants. This specific grant was distributed in 2023.

ESSER funding was designed to prop up schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and promote academic and emotional recovery for students in its wake.

According to Bailey, the district could owe up to $726,653 for misuse of funds and grant violations.

Violations include:

  • Expenditures for capital purchases being made without approval.
  • The district failing to pay prevailing wages with grant funds.
  • Expenditure reports submitted based on budgeted amounts instead of actual spending.
  • Employees being paid in excess of normal pay rates.
  • Salaries being paid out of the grant program without any documentation of employee time or effort.

The district has submitted information Bailey hopes will clarify some of the issues outlined in the audit.

“They did contact us and ask for some more information,” she explained. “I don’t know if we can get that (amount) lessened or not.”

In the meantime, Bailey noted the district implemented time and effort sheets to avoid similar issues in the future, specifically regarding documentation of grant pay.

“We’re trying to correct that going forward,” Bailey said.

Bailey and the board will wait with bated breath for word from ISBE on the final amount owed for the misappropriations.

“We’re hoping, fingers crossed, maybe we won’t have to pay that much back,” she said.

The news comes after the board submitted a four-year corrective action plan to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for a separate payback of $487,115.76.

If the IDPH demands the entire sum of misappropriated ESSER grant funding back, Paris 95 will owe nearly $4.5 million in misused grant funding to several different granting agencies.

The ESSER audit is the latest in a series of several grant-related audits, the first of which came to light in June 2023, when the district’s previous superintendent, Jeremy Larson, was in office.

FBI agents searched Larson’s home on June 13, 2023. A report released shortly after the search indicated “the grant recipient appeared to circumvent established internal controls, policies, and procedures for the procurement of goods and services.”

Larson and Paris 95 parted ways in late December 2023.

For more information, visit

Paris District 95, Audit, Paybacks