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California School Fiscal Services

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Stone & Youngberg: Bond Firm's Gifts to California School Officials Probed

Posted on April 13, 2015 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (7)
Yes, the failure to report "gifts" can get you in a lot of trouble.  So can borrowing money.  If you are dealing with firms like this and they are sending you gifts, your radar should be going off!  

It's all around dangerous territory and if you think these types of for-profit companies are there to "help" you, think again.  Remember, you are likely the only person in the room of meetings with these organizations that actually cares about taxpayer money and ensuring that it is spent not only legally, but responsibly.  

These "gifts" should scare you not flatter you. 

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April 22 (Bloomberg) -- California’s political watchdog is investigating whether school officials failed to report gifts from municipal bond underwriter Stone & Youngberg, now a unit of Stifel Financial Corp.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is looking into whether officials at districts that did business with Stone & Youngberg neglected to report meals and other gifts on mandatory disclosure forms, commission spokesman Jay Wierenga said by telephone.

Stone & Youngberg, based in San Francisco, was the state’s fourth-biggest muni underwriter when Stifel bought it in 2011. In the five years preceding the acquisition, Stone & Youngberg managed $14.7 billion in bond sales in California, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Since October 2011, Stifel has overseen $7.9 billion of issuance in the state, the data show.

“It’s not necessarily Stone & Youngberg as the focus of our investigation,” Wierenga said yesterday by telephone from Sacramento. “The focus is on unreported gifts. A lot of companies give gifts. Those have to be reported.”

Stephen Heaney, a Stifel managing director in Los Angeles, didn’t respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages seeking comment. Linda Olszewski, a company spokeswoman in St. Louis, didn’t respond to e-mail after regular business hours.

Stone & Youngberg managed sales in two San Diego County school districts that pushed the largest debt payments decades into the future through capital-appreciation bonds. The Santee Unified School District sold $3.5 million in 2011 with no payment due until 2026 and $40.3 million payable in 2051. The Poway Unified School District deferred to 2033 all payments on $105 million in bonds issued in 2011, with interest totaling $1 billion.

‘Abusive’ Practice

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer criticized the practice as “abusive” and led a push in the legislature to cap interest costs at four times the principal.

Under California law, local elected officials must disclose gifts worth an aggregate of $50 or more. Gifts from a single source may not total more than $440 in a year. The state also prohibits elected officials from voting on matters from which they may personally profit.

Wierenga declined to provide details on the state’s investigation such as the school districts or officials under scrutiny.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Nash in Los Angeles at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at [email protected] Pete Young, Mike Millard


Violating the Brown Act is a Very Bad Idea

Posted on February 12, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (5)
I think we all should know by now that violating the Brown Act is a bad idea.  That said, I have seen it happen far too many times and when I see such a vested effort to go after a charter, it causes me to wonder.  Don't get me wrong....I belive in accountability.  I just want to see it across the board,  not in selected cases that likely have some other agenda. 

Putting aside the clear inequity in enforcement that exists here in California, there is a simple solution for all.  Don't violate the Brown Act.  If you are running a school district or charter, you need to know the law.  There are countless classes (Check out www.csba.org) and training opportunities.  Get educated and then stand tall in enforcing the law.  Don't sit in a room full of board members silently when they stray off-topic.  Make your expectations clear and then be consistent.  Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing.  Just remember that there can be consequences like what is going on right now with Clayton Valley.  Don't let that be you!

______________________________



Clayton Valley Charter High under investigation

CONCORD -- The Contra Costa County district attorney and the County Office of Education are investigating allegations that the Clayton Valley Charter High school board violated the state's open meeting law.

In a December 22 letter to the chairman of the charter school's governing board, District Attorney Mark Peterson revealed that he was investigating complaints related to potential violations of the Brown Act, or open meeting law, by the board of trustees.

The district attorney asked how the board disclosed to the public what it planned to discuss at meetings; and how particular discussions were handled by the board, including an investigation of two board members that allegedly led one to resign, a meeting regarding the extension of the executive director's contract, and a closed session regarding an employee's termination.

Steve Moawad, senior deputy district attorney, confirmed in an email that his office sent the Brown Act inquiry.

"The school has provided a response which my office is evaluating," he said. "I cannot discuss the inquiry in further detail."

Also, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata sent a letter last week to David Linzey, executive director of Clayton Valley High, seeking public records related to 13 areas of the school and board's operations. These included board agendas and minutes, complaint procedures, investigative reports, settlement agreements, employment agreements, vendor contracts, board member documents, government agency filings, and conflict of interest statements from the school staff and board. Sakata said Monday that her office, which authorizes the school's charter, has asked legal counsel from Dannis Woliver Kelly to investigate more than two dozen complaints received over the past few months.

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"We're waiting to see the results of the investigation and we'll act upon it depending on what the recommendation is," she said. "There might be suggestions for corrections so they can improve their process. But at this point, it's too early to know."

Linzey said Monday that the school's "attorneys assure us that we haven't done anything inappropriate."

Ted Meriam, chairman of Clayton Valley's governing board, said the school was cooperating with both agencies and that it complied with the Brown Act.

The letters come on the heels of a Change.org petition posted by a group calling itself Stakeholders for Transparency, which has gathered more than 500 supporters seeking Linzey's ouster. In addition, some members of the school's faculty have voted no confidence in Linzey.

"I believe what is happening at Clayton Valley has escalated into an investigation-worthy situation because the governing board and Dave Linzey refuse to listen to teachers, parents, students and community members," teacher board representative Amber Lineweaver said in an e-mail. "Our charter was created and written in such a way as to avoid unilateral decision-making and top-down management. The investigation gives me hope that a resolution is in sight."

But Meriam said the board stands behind Linzey's leadership and has extended his contract for three years. He alleged that the stakeholder's group has exaggerated issues at the school.

"I see this more as a public relations concern than a governance concern," he said. "There are wonderful things we're doing on a daily basis for our students."

To improve communications, Meriam said Linzey and his administrators have begun meeting with teachers during "lunch and learn" discussions. The school has also created a Charting the Future for our Children Facebook page providing opportunities for questions and answers, he said.

MORE INFORMATION: Copies of the letters from the district attorney and county superintendent are available at www.contracostatimes.com/education.

Information regarding the "Stakeholders for Transparency" group is available atwww.facebook.com/CVCHSStakeholders.

The Clayton Valley Charter High governing board will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the school's multiuse room at 1101 Alberta Way, Concord. More information is at www.claytonvalley.org. Click on Governance, then select Agendas and Minutes, then 2015, then Feb. 11.

 

 


Schools trustee Stampolis escapes another restraining order

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (61)

We've all had our share of difficult board members.  This article should make your bad experiences seem like a cake-walk!  If not, time to dust off that resume!

------------------------

By Sharon [email protected]

POSTED: 01/05/2015 12:23:40 PM PST3 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 13 DAYS AGO

SAN JOSE -- Schools trustee Chris Stampolis' alleged threat to inflict as much pain as possible on the Santa Clara Unified schools superintendent and his family did not pose enough of a menace to merit a restraining order against him, a judge ruled Monday.

 

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Derek Woodhouse ruled that Stampolis' statements to Superintendent Stan Rose failed to amount to "clear and convincing evidence" of a physical threat against him.

 

"Superintendents throughout the county from time to time encounter trustees that can really be a challenge to deal with," Woodhouse said. "I believe that Mr. Stampolis falls into that category."

 

Monday's ruling was the latest in a legal saga that began last fall, when Peterson Middle School Principal Susan Harris charged Stampolis with harassment and took him to court. Her case prompted others to come forward complaining Stampolis bullied them, and her success in winning court protection from Stampolis led to a school board censure, a limit on his activities and Rose's suit -- as well as pushback from Stampolis.

 

Stampolis has denied threatening Rose and said afterward, "I am glad the issue has been resolved."

 

Rose, however, said he felt sad and still feared Stampolis. "I don't want to have anything to do with him," Rose said, adding that he would continue to request Santa Clara Police officers at every school board meeting.

 

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In October, Rose filed for a restraining order to keep Stampolis away from him and his wife. He sought the order the same day Harris won an order for Stampolis to stay away from her, her husband, her father and Peterson Middle School. She said Stampolis acted threateningly, and a school video camera showed him pointing his hands in the shape of a gun.

 

Rose's request was based on a Sept. 15 meeting with Stampolis and then-trustee Ina Bendis, during a discussion of Stampolis' threat to sue Rose for defamation. Stampolis' attorney Tomas Margain argued that the Stampolis' comments referred to when to serve Rose with legal papers.

 

Stampolis asked Rose when his wife would be home. Rose asked why, because his wife had nothing to do with his work as a superintendent. Stampolis, Rose said, responded that "it would be 'fun' in inflict as much pain on my family and me as possible."

 

But Stampolis' friend and political ally Bendis testified Monday that she was shaken by his comments to Rose. "I felt his words were horribly inappropriate. They were embarrassing," she said. However, she contended that his words referenced emotional and financial pain, not physical pain.

 

She said she attended the meeting as a conciliator, although she admitted she did not intervene after Stampolis' outburst.

 

Annette Morse, Rose's executive assistant, told the court that she could hear the raised voices of Stampolis and Bendis outside the closed door of Rose's office.

 

Once the two trustees left, Morse went in to check on Rose.

 

"I went in to ask if he was OK and he didn't respond at first. Then he said 'no,'" Morse testified. "He was as white as a sheet," and as he reached for the phone, his arm was shaking.

 

Since then, he has suffered emotional stress and abdominal pain, according to a note from his doctor, who wrote that a restraining order would help his physical and mental health.

 

Stampolis said that he has attempted to apologize in person to Rose, and that the court hearing has distracted from the issues of helping Latino students and providing equitable educational services.

 

However, the district still faces a small-claims case filed by Stampolis' 12-year-old son, with Stampolis acting as his guardian, stemming from an incident at Peterson when administrators asked his seventh-grader to wait while they spoke to Stampolis in the school office. Afterward, Stampolis drove to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety and inquired about his son filing a complaint of being kept against his will.

 

The Santa Clara Unified school board has given permission to district employees not to speak with Stampolis, and banned him from campuses in his official capacity -- in addition to his one-year legal ban from Peterson.

 

However, Stampolis has filed a notice of appeal in that case. He also has not paid Harris the $19,000 in attorney's fees and costs, as ordered by the court in November.

 

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/noguchionk12.

Ex-schools boss sent to prison -Prosecution only sought home detention, judge upped the penalty

Posted on January 19, 2015 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (5)

Another reminder that you don't want to be the CBO working for this guy.  If you are in a place that likes to "look the other way", think again.  Life is too short and you don't want to sacrifice your career because your boss demands it.

----------------------------------

Former San Ysidro schools Superintendent Manuel Paul was sentenced to two months in federal prison on Tuesday in a pay-to-play scheme in which he demanded campaign contributions from contractors if they wanted to be considered for construction projects.

 

The sentence handed down by Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo stunned Paul, 63, who had pleaded guilty in August to a federal misdemeanor charge. The plea bargain in the case didn’t include any agreement that he would serve time in custody, and he clearly expected not to.

 

 

But Gallo said prison time was warranted, in part because of the betrayal of trust and the “shameful” conduct of Paul.

 

“The abuse of trust is in my view a mortal sin, that is very difficult to excuse,” he said.

 

The judge turned aside a recommendation from federal probation officials who said Paul should get at most four months of home detention. The judge ordered Paul to report to the downtown federal jail in two weeks to begin his sentence. He’ll also have to do 120 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine.

 

Paul, 63, pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge called “deprivation of benefit for political contribution.” In a plea deal, he admitted to demanding campaign contributions from contractor as the price for them be considered for work on district projects.

 

In 2010, two months before elections to the school board, the superintendent accepted $2,500 in cash from a contractor in the front seat of Paul’s Mercedes-Benz in a steak house parking lot.

 

Paul admitted to the transaction later in a deposition in a civil lawsuit, and ultimately in his federal plea agreement too. He said he used the money to pay for campaign posters for three school board candidates.

 

Gallo also blamed Paul for financial problems looming over the district. Last year a construction company won a $12 million verdict against the district in a civil suit. The plaintiffs claimed the district canceled a contract to install solar power at schools because the company wouldn’t participate in the pay-to-play culture.

 

The judge said that culture “placed the school district in financial jeopardy.” Paul’s lawyer, Daniel Rodriguez, said blaming Paul for the district’s financial problems stemming from that sit was “ridiculous.”

 

Under the terms of the plea bargain Paul was supposed to get only probation and no time in jail, which angered some in the South Bay community who wrote letters to Gallo urging a prison sentence for Paul.

 

“It is clear he used his positions to extort and coerce favors from businesses seeking work from the district, and when confronted Mr. Paul chose to lie and cover up his actions,” wrote Marcos Diaz, the vice president of the San Ysidro school board.

 

Supporters of Paul pointed to his long record in education — he worked for 38 years in San Ysidro as a teacher and administrator — and the improvements he brought to the district’s academics when he became the leader. They said in letters to Gallo that school test scores increased under Paul’s tenure.

Paul resigned in 2013. In court before sentencing, he apologized.

 

“If I did anything to cause any humiliation to any student or member of the community, I’m deeply sorry,” he said.

 

Paul testified in a deposition in the civil case that he spent the money from the cash handoff at a print shop in Tijuana for campaign signs for board member Yolanda Hernandez.

 

The charge Paul pleaded guilty to makes no mention of an incident in July 2013 in which district documents were burned and shredded at a maintenance yard owned by the district. Paul was reportedly seen on the property the night before, an employee told U-T Watchdog at the time.

 

Paul also pleaded guilty in an unrelated probe by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis into corruption among three South Bay school districts. He admitted to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false document and was sentenced to probation, community service and fined in that case.


FBI Seizes Los Angeles Schools' iPad Documents

Posted on December 4, 2014 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)
While there is not another district anywhere that is subjected to scrutiny like LAUSD, there is a reminder for the rest of us here.  I know I sound like a broken record but the smart CBO pays attention to their purchasing practices.  I know too many of us that have been faced with ethical situations because someone wanted to bend the rules.  Don't do it and don't look the other way or this could be you.  

-------------------------------

 LOS ANGELES — Dec 2, 2014, 11:08 PM ET

 By CHRISTINE ARMARIO Associated Press

    Associated Press

 

 The U.S. attorney's office subpoenaed the Los Angeles Unified School District for records pertaining to its $1 billion iPad project as part of a federal grand jury probe.

 

A copy of the subpoena released Tuesday requests all documents related to proposals for the district's cornerstone technology initiative, which has been plagued with problems since its rollout last year. The requested records include proposal scoring documents, review committee files and employee information, among other materials.

 

LAUSD general counsel David Holmquist told The Associated Press the district was expecting federal agents to visit and retrieve documents toward the end of the week. Instead FBI agents arrived at district offices on Monday, carting away about 20 boxes worth of records.

 

"We turned over all documents that we think are responsive to the subpoena," Holmquist said.

 

He said the district has not been provided any information on what federal authorities are investigating.

 

The district's Common Core Technology Project aimed to provide 21st century learning devices to all of the district's 650,000 students, chipping away at the technology divide that often leaves lower-income students at a disadvantage from their more affluent peers.

 

The program was championed by then-Superintendent John Deasy and approved unanimously by the school board in 2013.

 

"The idea of providing first-class learning technology to all the kids in the district, not just the kids who could afford it, is certainly a worthy educational goal," said Charles Taylor Kerchner, a professor at Claremont Graduate University. "That worthy goal runs up against problems of organizational feasibility, and it did from the beginning."

 

Hundreds of students initially given iPads last school year found ways to bypass security installations, downloading games and freely surfing the Web. Teachers complained they were not properly trained to instruct students with the new technology. And questions were raised after emails were disclosed showing Deasy had been in communication with vendors Apple and Pearson before the contracts were put to bid. He resigned under pressure, in part from the iPad troubles, in October.

 

While it remained unclear exactly what aspect of the iPad project , one of the biggest technological undertakings by an urban district in the U.S., the FBI was investigating, legal experts and education observers immediately focused on Deasy's relationship with Apple and Pearson and the use of construction bond proceeds to spend money on a short-term device purchase.

 

Ariel Neuman, a former federal prosecutor, said the government is likely investigating possible fraud involving the contracts.

 

"If someone doesn't disclose a relationship they have with Apple," he said, "those could be material omissions that could lead to a wire or mail fraud case."

 

Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines had planned to move forward with equipping an additional 27 schools with learning devices, but said Tuesday he was canceling the contract and starting another. Cortines said he made the decision based on "identified flaws" in the L.A. Unified inspector general's report on device procurement.

 

He added that the district would continue with a different contract with Apple to provide iPads and another vendor, Arey Jones, to provide Chromebooks for a new set of exams in the spring aligned to the Common Core, the new academic benchmarks being implemented in California and other states around the nation.

 

"My intent is that the students attending these schools will receive devices under a new contract at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year," Cortines said.

 

To date, the district has spent $70 million on the project, purchasing 90,713 devices.

 

News of the probe immediately drew rebuke from United Teachers Los Angeles, a frequent Deasy critic. Union president Alex Caputo-Pearl said Deasy "cannot escape the tough questions about the ill-fated iPad project. He cannot simply resign and leave a mess for others to clean up."

 

Deasy did not return a request for comment.

 


Calif. Superintendents' Pay and Perks Draw Ire of State Lawmakers

Posted on November 11, 2014 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (6)
Here's an interesting blog on salaries of California superintendents.  

As you probably already know, several school districts have come under scrutiny lately due to the high salaries of their top administrator.  This is just another example of how we have to always think carefully about the decisions that we make and how they may appear to the public that trusts us with their money.  We don't work in private enterprise and the expectation is very different when paying the bills with public money.

We would all be served well to remember this lesson.  
--------------------------

  By Madeline Will on November 11, 2014 9:22 AM

   By guest blogger Madeline Will

 

Want to buy a house with a no-interest loan? Consider becoming a superintendent in California.

 The pay and perks for superintendents in school districts across the state—including district-financed home loans—have become increasingly common and are coming under fire from some California lawmakers. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, both small and large public school districts are giving compensation packages that top and even sometimes double the $176,000 in salary and benfits that Gov. Jerry Brown earns.

 

For example, when Max McGee was hired as the Palo Alto Unified School District's next superintendent earlier this year, he received a generous compensation package of $295,000 base pay, $9,000 as an annual car allowance, $6,000 for life insurance premiums, and an up-to-$1 million no-interest home loan, according to the Chronicle.

 

Superintendents' hefty pay packages didn't vary too much between small and large districts. The Chronicle found that Lane Weiss, superintendent of the Saratoga Union Elementary district, which has 2,100 students, is making $317,000—on par with San Francisco Unified Superintendent Richard Carranza's salary of $319,000 for his work in the 58,000-student district.

 

And among the highest-paid school employees in California last year? Three fired superintendents from Bay Area districts who received six-figure severance payouts.

 

(The Council of the Great City Schools recently released a report that has lots of data about salaries for schools chiefs in some of the nation's big-city districts—the average for CGCS superintendents was $242,000.)

 

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle reacted harshly to the Chronicle's findings.

 

Said Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco: "Last year, the legislature invested many billions of additional dollars into education with the intent that they benefit the classroom as much as possible, not top administrators' salaries and perks."

 

And Assemblyman Brian Jones, a Republican from the San Diego area said: "That's an egregious abuse of taxpayer funds. This is taxpayer money that is supposed to go to teach kids not buy houses."

 

This isn't a new issue. Back in 2010, Education Week's Lesli Maxwell wrote about cases of superintendents across the country making more than their respective governors. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose salary was less than that of 75 percent of state superintendents, proposed a cap on schools chiefs' salaries which took effect in 2011.

 

But a recent editorial in The Star-Ledger said the cap has "backfired." Superintendents are leaving the state to take jobs elsewhere, and in some cases, schools chiefs are even finding ways around the cap (one adopted a new title to avoid the pay cut).

 

It's a thorny issue because superintendents do difficult, often-thankless work—but are some of these compensation packages excessive? Or are they simply reflecting the market value of top district leaders?

 


Rialto Unified: 10 months after audit, district to tackle purchasing, contract problems

Posted on October 27, 2014 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (4)
When was the last time you took a minute to evaluate the purchasing practices of your district?  If you are a small or mid-sized district, it is likely that you don't have a purchasing division to maintain and review appropriate internal controls. 

Let the mistakes of this district serve as a reminder to all.  Take some time and think about your practices and correct them if need be.  

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RIALTO >> Ten months after the release of a state audit that found “many causes for concern” in how Rialto Unified handles its contracts and purchasing, the school board voted Wednesday night to respond and possibly go after those who had gotten paid too much, or who perhaps should not have gotten paid at all.

 

On Jan. 6, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team released its audit looking at Rialto Unified’s procurement services.

 

FCMAT is a collective that helps local school districts with financial and management advice and assistance.

 

The audit, conducted at the request of interim Superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam in his capacity as associate superintendent of business services, found a number of causes for concern

 

“The site and purchasing department staff identified areas of concern including contract approvals that are not always completed prior to service; outdated written processes and documents in the purchasing department; and the frequent utilization of vendor-supplied contracts instead of district contracts,” the report reads in part. “In addition, the accounts payable staff expressed several concerns related to internal controls, including the highest level of administration not following proper procedures for purchases.”

 

At Wednesday night’s meeting, the board voted 3-1, with board President Joanne Gilbert absent and board member Joseph Martinez dissenting, to ratify an agreement with the Chino legal firm of Gutierrez, Fierro and Erickson, which will “further review the FCMAT report and the documentations supporting the report,” according to the meeting agenda.

 

“If people wrongly charged this district ... and the funds are recoverable, we have a responsibility to do it,” board member Edgar Montes argued. “Who knows, there might even be criminal charges.”

 

 

Martinez was skeptical, though:

 

“The thing we need to learn before we spend $10,000 is ‘has the statute of limitations passed?’” he said.

 

“If we don’t do it, what are people going to think they can come to Rialto, pick our pocket and walk away?” Montes said.

 

The board also discussed behind closed doors the ongoing request for public documents related to this past spring’s controversial Holocaust essay assignment. The district has been slow to release the documents requests by media organizations and members of the public, although the pace has accelerated since the board hired a new legal firm to handle the issue in August.

 

One of those members of the public, Pasadena attorney Neal Fialkow, made another pitch to the board on Wednesday night to release the documents, and presented the results of what he described as his independent investigation:

 

“Eighth-grade teachers teaching English teach research methods and therefore should have known (an Australian Holocaust denial website) was not a credible source,” he said. “You have to reckon with the fact that you may have a hatemonger among you, and you haven’t and you won’t.”

 

Fialkow has repeatedly called on the district to release its 47-page report on its own internal investigation. The district has repeatedly refused to release the report to any individual or agency, most recently on Monday in a response to a request from this newspaper.

 

On Wednesday night, Fialkow said the assignment had broken multiple state laws and vowed to sue the district.

 

State law requires public agencies to answer requests made under the California Public Records Act within 10 days, though public agencies may request an extension if they are not immediately available or if the request is particularly complex. The district has still failed to release some of the documents requested in May, including invoices from the legal firm of Lozano Smith, the district’s legal counsel during the last tumultuous months of former Superintendent Harold Cebrun’s tenure and the first four months following the revelation of the Holocaust assignment.

 

“I’m getting sick and tired of getting request after request” for outstanding public records requests, Montes said, urging Islam to release any documents that would not endanger the safety of the teachers involved in the creation of the Holocaust essay assignment. “The public has the right to review public records.”

 

District officials also want to keep a closer eye on their vehicles. The school board was scheduled to vote on a request from the district’s Transportation Department on the purchase of 70 global position system units for 70 vehicles, including 59 school buses, four vans and seven Nutrition Services vehicles for $70,160.56, along with accepting a $43,870.25 grant, which would help offset the cost of the GPS units.

 

“The GPS system will increase the efficiency of our routing system as well as increase the safety and security of transportation for students to and from school,” the request reads in part.

 

The board approved the GPS system by a 4-0 vote.

 

The next scheduled board meeting is Nov. 12 at district headquarters at 182 E. Walnut Ave.

By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin



Bond Firm, Stone & Youngberg Gifts to California School Officials Probed

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (5)
Ah, Stone & Youngberg......so much I could say but this article says it all...

_____________________

By James Nash Apr 21, 2014 7:44 PM 

California’s political watchdog is investigating whether school officials failed to report gifts from municipal bond underwriter Stone & Youngberg, now a unit of Stifel Financial Corp. (SF)

 

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is looking into whether officials at districts that did business with Stone & Youngberg neglected to report meals and other gifts on mandatory disclosure forms, commission spokesman Jay Wierenga said by telephone.

 

Stone & Youngberg, based in San Francisco, was the state’s fourth-biggest muni underwriter when Stifel bought it in 2011. In the five years preceding the acquisition, Stone & Youngberg managed $14.7 billion in bond sales in California, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Since October 2011, Stifel has overseen $7.9 billion of issuance in the state, the data show.

 

“It’s not necessarily Stone & Youngberg as the focus of our investigation,” Wierenga said yesterday by telephone from Sacramento. “The focus is on unreported gifts. A lot of companies give gifts. Those have to be reported.”

 

Stephen Heaney, a Stifel managing director in Los Angeles, didn’t respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages seeking comment. Linda Olszewski, a company spokeswoman in St. Louis, didn’t respond to e-mail after regular business hours.

 

Stone & Youngberg managed sales in two San Diego County school districts that pushed the largest debt payments decades into the future through capital-appreciation bonds. The Santee Unified School District sold $3.5 million in 2011 with no payment due until 2026 and $40.3 million payable in 2051. The Poway Unified School District deferred to 2033 all payments on $105 million in bonds issued in 2011, with interest totaling $1 billion.

 

‘Abusive’ Practice

 

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer criticized the practice as “abusive” and led a push in the legislature to cap interest costs at four times the principal.

 

Under California law, local elected officials must disclose gifts worth an aggregate of $50 or more. Gifts from a single source may not total more than $440 in a year. The state also prohibits elected officials from voting on matters from which they may personally profit.

 

Wierenga declined to provide details on the state’s investigation such as the school districts or officials under scrutiny.

 

To contact the reporter on this story: James Nash in Los Angeles at [email protected]

 

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at [email protected] Pete Young, Mike Millard


Former Santa Clara Unified official charged with felony conflict of interest- Posted by Matt Tinsley

Posted on September 14, 2014 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (6)

By Katie Nelson

[email protected]

SAN JOSE -- A former assistant superintendent with the Santa Clara Unified School District faces felony conflict of interest charges, officials said, after he approved contracts and checks that paid him thousands in public money.

 

 www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_26516866/former-santa-clara-unifed-official-charged-felony-conflict

 

 

 


 

Former Columbus Data Chief Pleads No Contest in Cheating Probe

Posted on August 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (1)

Another sad example of a lack of integrity in our educational system. I think the worst part is that the Superintendent is denying he was involved. Does anyone believe that the head of technology was the "mastermind" behind playing with the district's data so that they could improve their test scores? Improving test scores is not a prime concern or yardstick of performance for the technology department. Some people just won't come clean.

 

Anyone else remember the Lance Armstrong controversy?

---------------------

 

By Denisa R. Superville on August 1, 2014 6:11 PM

 

The former chief information officer of the Columbus City Schools in Ohio pleaded no contest to the charge of attempted tampering with government records in connection with a "data-scrubbing" scandal in the district.

 

Stephen B. Tankovich was the first to be criminally charged in the attendance-rigging scandal, where administrators allegedly withdrew students who had been absent without an excuse for 10 days from the attendance records and then re-enrolled them, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

 

Withdrawing the students meant that they were not counted as having been enrolled for a full year. As a result, their attendance records and test scores were not counted in the district's performance records.

 

As part of the plea deal entered this week, Tankovich agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify in grand jury hearings involving others implicated in the probe, according to the paper.

 

About 60 educators, including former Superintendent Gene Harris and 32 active principals and assistant principals, were sent subpoenas in June for records in connection to their alleged roles in the data-rigging scandal, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

 

Three others who have been implicated are likely to make pleas within the next month, the paper said.

 

Prosecutors have said that Tankovich was the mastermind behind the plan. Prosecutors accuse Tankovich of creating a system that allowed administrators and data workers to change student records. That inaccurate information was then submitted to the Ohio Department of Education, the Dispatch notes.

 

Tankovich's attorney, Mark C. Collins, said that Harris, who retired last year, knew about the plan, the Dispatch reports.

 

Collins said that Harris was "aware of the issues and the conflicts" around altering student data and that Tankovich had discussed the plan in meetings with Harris.

 

Harris has denied any knowledge of the data changes.

 

The charge, a fourth degree felony, carries a maximum 18-month prison sentence and a $5,000 fine, but Tankovich will most likely receive probation, the paper says.