- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa state officials say they won’t challenge Polk County’s spending of nearly $845,000 in public money to help parochial schools.

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman’s office won’t review the matter. The office’s attorney, Bernardo Granwehr, says that the legality of spending public money on private schools could be questioned, but because Polk County Attorney John Sarcone declared the practice legal, the auditor’s office has no grounds to review it.

State law prohibits the use of county money for church-affiliated schools.

A spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said Tuesday that Miller’s office doesn’t have any enforcement authority with regard to that law.

The county board’s former legal adviser, Michael O’Meara, says he advised the board in 2011 that it would be illegal for it to donate casino gambling proceeds to local Catholic schools.

But months later, several Catholic school supporters formed a new Iowa corporation called Education for the 21st Century to apply for and receive county grants to buy supplies and equipment for the parochial schools.

The board of supervisors awarded the corporation a $400,000 grant in 2012 and a $444,000 grant in 2013. The group is now defunct.

County Supervisor John Mauro, who arranged for the grants, acknowledged they were designed to help church-affiliated schools, saying he’s proud that the board gives “to the Christian schools, and we give to the Catholic schools.”


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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