A dramatic reporting mistake in the number of Metro Nashville students receiving free and reduced-price lunches is forcing the school district to repay the federal government money it shouldn't have received, state officials said Wednesday.
Districts report that figure and other statistics to the state, and the data is used to allocate federal funds and compile the state report card. Metro reported 81.4 percent in the lunch program last school year — an unprecedented jump — when the correct number was 71.8 percent, up from 69.6 percent the year before.[...]
Connie Smith, executive director of accountability for the state Department of Education, called the amount paid to Metro in error "pretty big money."
"This is very, very high-risk because funds are attached to those numbers," she said. "… The numbers don't come from the state, they come from the system. Internal communication issues, this goes directly to that."