EXCLUSIVE: State tells City of Ansonia to pay funds back to Board of Ed.

ANSONIA -- Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti has a simple message for the Board of Education.

"They think that we should give them the $600,000 and I say no," he says.

For months both sides have been battling over the funds. Earlier this year, Ansonia board of alderman voted to strip the funds from the board of education's budget claiming the state gave them more money than expected and that the city should be able to take some back.

But those state funds were alliance funds which is money that can only be used for specific things such as early childhood reading programs, teacher training and recruiting.

They're not general use funds.

Nevertheless, mayor Cassetti is standing his ground by saying he won't pay the board of education a dime.

Tuesday, the Connecticut Department of Education weighed in on the matter by sending an official letter to Mayor Cassetti stating that the confiscation of the $600,000 was illegal.

The city failed to meet the statutory minimum budget requirement for the board of education and the funds need to be paid back.

Mayor Cassetti responded with a different take.

“That was a letter that was fabricated or put together by this board of education and given to the state. They used the same language. And right now it’s in legal hands and legal is handling it," said Cassette.

He said the almost $32 million budget for the board of education has been misused.

“77 percent of it goes to their salaries. That leaves $6 million for the children. They preach that it’s for the kids, for the kids. It’s not for the kids. It for all these high salaries that we’re paying," he said.

Because of the missing $600,000, the board of education was forced to lay off 17 teachers for the 2018-19 school year as well as additional cuts to administrators, athletics and the school costs.

FOX61 has reached out to The State Department of Education as well as lawyers for the Ansonia Board of Education and have not received a response.

This will continue to be an ongoing legal battle between both sides.