The approved grant application is a legally binding contract between TEA and the grantee. As with any contract, the law gives each party recourse if the other party fails to uphold its contractual obligations.
Under both state code (Section 157.1082 of the Texas Administrative Code [TAC]) and federal regulation (Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations [34 CFR] Part 80.43(a)), TEA is empowered to take certain enforcement actions against any grantee that fails to a significant degree ("materially fails") to comply with any term of the grant agreement. As stated in 34 CFR 80.43(a), enforcement actions are "remedies for noncompliance"; that is, they are the means by which TEA may seek to prevent a grantee from further violating the terms of the grant agreement.
Because the grant agreement contains a wide variety of terms that a grantee could potentially violate in a number of different ways, both the state and federal regulations define several possible enforcement actions and empower TEA to choose which of those (one or more) is appropriate in the circumstances.
Both state code and federal regulation (TAC §157.1083 and 34 CFR 80.43(b)) give grant applicants the opportunity for hearing if TEA takes an enforcement action that is contrary to state or federal statute or regulation.
The following sections outline the state code and federal regulations governing the enforcement process.
Grounds for Disapproval or Withholding of Grant Funds
Per TAC §157.1082, applicants have the opportunity for a hearing when TEA disapproves or withholds grant funds, such as any of the following:
- IDEA LEA MOE
- NCLB LEA MOE
- Title I comparability
- A-133 (independent audits) questioned costs
- TEA audit or monitoring review resulting in questioned costs
- Any other enforcement actions where TEA reduces grantee allocation amounts or requires refunds due to compliance or eligibility requirements
- Disapproval of an application, as applicable (per 34 CFR 76.401)
Per 34 CFR 76.401(c)(1) and (2) and TAC §157.1081, TEA must offer an opportunity for a hearing if the applicant alleges that TEA took either of the following actions in violation of state or federal statute or regulation:
- Disapproval of or failure to approve the application or project in whole or in part
- Failure to provide funds in amounts in accordance with the requirements of statutes and regulations
The applicant must meet the following requirements, and TEA must adhere to the following process, as defined in TAC §157.1083.
According to the procedures in TAC §157.1083, the applicant must request the hearing 30 calendar days of the date of the enforcement letter. The request must be in accordance with the procedures specified in TAC §157.1083.
In the request for hearing, the organization shall specify:
- The action or proposed action that is the subject of the requested hearing;
- The statutory or regulatory authority identifying and supporting a finding that a violation occurred by TEA in enforcing the decision; and
- Specific facts supporting a finding that the action taken by TEA is in error.
The request for hearing shall be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested; faxed to (512) 475-3662; or hand delivered to:
Director of Hearings
Texas Education Agency
1701 N. Congress Ave., Suite 2-150
Austin, TX 78701-1494
The request for hearing shall be deemed filed at the time it is actually received by the Director of Hearings or the designated docket clerk in the TEA Division of Hearings.
The opportunity to request a hearing will be void 31 calendar days after the date of the enforcement letter.
- The hearing shall be held on the record and within 30 days after the request for hearing is received.
- At reasonable times and places, TEA shall make pertinent TEA records available.
- No later than 10 days after the hearing, TEA shall issue a written ruling that includes findings of fact and reasons.
- TEA shall be ordered to rescind the action if it is determined to be contrary to governing state or federal statutes or regulations.
Per TAC §157.1083, the applicant may appeal to the US Department of Education if TEA is ordered to rescind its action and fails to do so.
Notice of Agency Policy
The Texas Education Agency conducts federal fiscal grant subrecipient monitoring and compliance reviews, and implements related enforcement actions, in accordance with its established policies and procedures. These policies and procedures incorporate best practices and standards that may be similar to common auditing standards, but the agency does not apply a specific set of external standards, such as the US Government Accountability Office’s Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (Yellow Book), nor is it required to do so.