Centralia School District defrauds Medicaid, pays $372,000 to settle investigation

July 18, 2014

Superintendent resigns and takes job with Yelm School District, Principal has “continuing contract” protections

On July 11, the Centralia School District (CSD), a district of 3,494 students south of Olympia, agreed to pay the Washington State Health Care Authority the sum of $372,000 to settle an investigation into how the district managed the Medicaid Administrative Match program. This program reimburses schools for time spent for referring eligible students and their families to Medicaid. A year-long investigation by the Medicaid Fraud unit of the state Attorney General’s office interviewed over 50 witnesses and found that the district had “knowingly filed scores of false time study forms to obtain MAC reimbursement payments it was not legally entitled to receive.”

The state Attorney General’s March 13, 2014 letter to the district states that the principal of Centralia Middle School, Greg Domingos, encouraged participants to “manufacture reimbursable activities on time study days in order to generate funds for the school.” The letter also said “we believe that Centralia Middle School personnel knowingly submitted false time study forms.”

The deceit didn’t stop at this middle school. The March 13 letter says the Attorney General can prove, at a minimum, “that the CSD acted ‘in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information’ contained in its time study forms, which is sufficient to establish CSD liability.”

Five administrators in the Centralia School District have announced their departures, including Superintendent Steve Bodnar and Director of Teaching and Learning Scott Nieman. Four of the five who have resigned have taken positions with other school districts. Steve Bodnar has taken a position in the Yelm District.  

What about Greg Domingos, principal of Centralia Middle School? Cliff Foster, attorney for the Centralia School District, said: “Mr. Domingos has continuing contact protections since he’s worked for the district 3 years. Under case law the question now becomes ‘did his behavior impact his ability to perform his duties?’”

Centralia’s new superintendent, Steve Warren, will be conducting his own investigations to determine what disciplinary actions are warranted. He will find his job much harder to perform because of the excessive job protections written into law which protect bad school principals (RCW 28A.405.245) and bad teachers (RCW 28A.405.100 et seq.). These job protections help create an environment and culture in some places, like Centralia Middle School, where administrators and teachers think nothing of falsifying time cards to defraud Medicaid. 

Comments

Medicaid fraud

In fairness, this "approach" was almost certainly sold to the school district by a consulting firm. The law is pretty complicated and schools have been getting away with this for decades. The school district should look to the consultants for answers.

criminal charges

Where are the school board members? Where are the public? A new superintendent doing the investigation. A fox in the hen house. Need an outside investigation!! If this happened in Longview we would drive the guilty out of town. Hoe dids these people get new jobs. I would hound them whever they went. Families included. Make bumper stickers!! Flyers. Everyday people should call that principal a bum. He would move. Centrailia people wake up!!!

Steve Bodnar, previous

Steve Bodnar, previous superintendent went to Yelm School District. Mitch Thompson, Finance Director went to Tumwater School District and was employed in the same position. Nice that they escaped without consequences.