State Auditor Issues Scathing Audit of Alum Rock School District

Botched construction deals, unlawful activity, poor transparency, and potential conflicts of interest are just some of the things alleged in a scathing new audit of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in San Jose.

The review was conducted by State Auditor Elaine Howle at the request of State Senator Jim Beall and Assemblyman Ash Kalra. It follows years of scrutiny and accusations of wrongdoing by district officials.

A copy of the report is available here. It alleges, in part, the following:

• The district failed to comply with its own policies and state law when awarding contracts, which resulted in unfavorable terms for the district, lack of contractor accountability, and botched construction jobs.

• Poor governance — including shoddy attendance at board meetings — have diminished efficiency and transparency. Additionally, “one board member violated state law by not recusing himself during a key board decision, while a second board member did not provide critical information when she recused herself from a board vote.” The district also violated the Brown Act by not posting meeting agendas on time and revising agendas at the last minute.

• The board has not adhered to its own policy for evaluating the performance of the Superintendent.

• The board engaged in repeated violations at meetings and has failed to provide “adequate support to its bond oversight committee, limiting the effectiveness of that committee’s review of the district’s bond programs.”

• Key FCMAT recommendations have not been implemented by the board.

The state’s auditor has issued a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening ethics, efficiency, and accountability. These include the creation of a new code of conduct and a new system for keeping tabs on contracts.

Superintendent Hilaria Bauer issued a response, available in full here. Bauer says the district takes the matter seriously and has already implemented many changes since the time period the audit covers.

Read more at San Jose Inside


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