This San Diego Unified School District federal funding application for homeless students shows the missing signature that resulted in an incomplete application and a loss of up to $750,000.

The official who oversees homeless student programs for the San Diego Unified School District accepted blame Friday for a missing signature on a grant application that cost the district up to $750,000 in federal funding.

Why this matters

California school districts are eligible to apply for up to $250,000 in federal funding annually to help homeless students succeed. Whether districts get the money depends on how well their grant writers do in explaining the need for the funding.

The grant would have gone to help homeless students succeed in school.

“It was a very unfortunate oversight,” said Jennifer Coronel, program manager for the district’s Youth in Transition office. “We had two large grants due at the same time and that one went out without the required signature.”

Coronel said she was responsible for getting the required signatures on the district’s application for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth grant. The finance official who needed to sign the document was not told to do it.

An inewsource story Friday detailed how the district submitted an incomplete application for a grant that could have provided the district with $250,000 annually over a three-year period. State education officials said the application was immediately disqualified because of the missing signature.

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After the application was rejected, Coronel said her office put protocols in place to ensure grants don’t go unsigned. That includes a checklist of all required items and a review by her director and executive director.

Applicants denied funding for the homeless education grant can appeal, but they have to do it within five business days.

Search San Diego County Homeless Students by district or charter school here

A state Education Department spokesman previously told inewsource that San Diego Unified was made aware of the appeals process and deadline. Coronel said she tried to petition for a review but was told a missing signature is not grounds for an appeal.

Coronel said the district has and will continue to depend on partnerships with community organizations to obtain donations to support homeless students. The district plans to reapply for the grant in 2021, the next time applications will be accepted.

“We’ve been really upset that we didn’t get the money over what we think is a small error. … They told us that when they did thumb through it, it looked very solid and really good,” Coronel said. “But unfortunately, they weren’t even able to score it because it was missing that one signature.”


Missing signature costs San Diego Unified funding for homeless students
May 11, 2018
A missing signature on a grant application means San Diego Unified has lost its chance to receive $750,000 in federal funding to help homeless students.

San Diego County homeless student count reaches record high. But how real are the numbers?
Feb. 13, 2018
New data show more than 23,800 students were homeless during the 2016-17 school year in San Diego County — a record high and a 4.7 percent increase over the previous year.

San Diego County Homeless Students: 2016-2017
Feb. 13, 2018
A searchable database of homeless student enrollment in San Diego County by district and charter school.

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Megan Wood was a multimedia journalist for inewsource. To contact inewsource with questions, tips or corrections, email