California School Fiscal Services
|Posted on June 22, 2015 at 8:15 PM|
STOCKTON — The 2014-15 San Joaquin County civil grand jury has criticized Stockton Unified School District officials and trustees for their handling of the purchase and sales process of 31 never-used special-education school buses.
In a report released Tuesday, the grand jury said the decisions to spend $2.05 million to purchase the buses in 2013 and to then sell them a year later were made with little documentation.
During its review, the grand jury determined bus service for special-needs students was also managed ineffectively.The grand jury found the district had been transporting on buses reserved for special-needs students about 100 students who were not qualified, based on their Individual Education Plans.
The Record previously reported that in June 2013, trustees unanimously agreed to buy the buses. Storer Transportation had previously handled that transportation on a contractual basis.
Carlos Chicas, a former SUSD transportation director, said last year the district would realize an annual savings of at least $700,000 by using its own buses and drivers. Wayne Martin, an ex-chief business officer, supported the proposal.
Both have since left SUSD.
The grand jury found information provided to trustees was “too brief, inadequate and generated very limited or no discussion.”
The grand jury recommends in the future that any new purchase exceeding $30,000 should have a full accounting and justification as required by board policies and the California Education Code.
The recommendations, the report states, are meant to strengthen SUSD operations.
Stockton Unified Board of Trustees President Gloria Allen doesn’t believe the report is fair, saying the grand jury didn't ask her or anyone else why the decisions were made. Allen said the board members made the most appropriate decision with the information they were given.
“At the time, the buses were a good idea, and now it looks like they weren't a good choice,” Allen said. “Things change and we went in another direction. It’s not fair to say we didn’t do our job. We worked with what information we had.”
— Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas (209) 546-8257 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.