SAN JOSE, CA – Dr. William Gillaspie, former deputy administrative officer for the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), will serve as the fiscal advisor for Alum Rock Union Elementary School District (ARUESD) starting April 23. His fiscal expertise will assist the district in strengthening its financial and operational processes.
"I am committed to supporting the district's efforts to improve its financial operations and in turn better serve its students and community," said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools. "I have selected Dr. Gillaspie to work with Alum Rock because of his extensive experience leading FCMAT comprehensive studies on school districts where fiscal emergency has been declared by state legislature and assisted in fiscal recovery."
Dr. Gillaspie has nearly 35 years of experience in public education. Prior to his position at FCMAT, he served as a county superintendent and assistant county superintendent, assistant superintendent of educational services, and director of special education. He has also held the position of school psychologist and classroom teacher. He has Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Psychology from Humboldt State University and a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from the University of San Francisco.
Last month, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) invoked its authority to "stay and rescind" or veto district actions that may put Alum Rock at further risk of insolvency. The action was based on Alum Rock's failure to reconcile books, perform the required annual audit for the last school year in a timely manner and having "a persistent absence of transparent and prudent board governance involving fiscal stewardship, conflicts of interest and contracting." As fiscal advisor, Dr. Gillaspie will have the authority to rescind district actions.
Education Code authorizes the county superintendent to provide fiscal oversight of each school district in his or her county (EC 1240(b)), and to assess the district's risks for financial stability, concur or not concur with the district's conclusions as to financial stability, and to intervene as necessary to assist and/or correct elements of an organization's operations that contribute to the district becoming insolvent. In addition, the county superintendent has broad authority to "superintend the schools of his or her county" (EC 1240(a)). This authority includes, but is not limited to, instruction, the health and safety of students, the condition of facilities, and governance matters that are not in the best interest of the district's stakeholders.
"As county superintendent, I take my oversight responsibilities seriously and will continue to support ARUESD in its efforts to improve its fiscal health and governance," commented Dr. Dewan. "I encourage others oversight partners, including the district attorney, the county treasurer, the county board of supervisors, other state officials, federal officials, and the Alum Rock community to join with me in ensuring strong accountability and fidelity in the area of governance, fiscal and facility matters at the district."
In November of 2016, the SCCOE received an anonymous allegation that Del Terra Real Estate Services, Inc., fraudulently billed the ARUESD for construction and program management services. The County Office initiated an extraordinary audit conducted by the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team which concluded there is sufficient evidence that fraud or misappropriation of funds may have occurred. The school district was financially independent from the County Office running their own fiscal and accounting systems but is now back into the County Office's systems.
The current fiscal expert team will continue to function in its support capacity to district personnel until Dr. Gillaspie begins his duties.
Public agencies including school districts have a duty to the public to be fiscally responsible by using its public dollars wisely and complying with laws pertaining to contracting. Allegations of fraud can be reported to the County Superintendent of Schools and may be submitted anonymously. Violations of the Political Reform Act including financial conflicts of interest should be reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission. For information regarding the complaint process, visit http://www.fppc.ca.gov/enforcement.html.
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The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional and business services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County and 23 charter schools. The SCCOE serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The Office also provides curriculum support, staff development, and technology support and training directly to teachers and staff in schools countywide.