SAN JOSE, CA – On Wednesday, August 8, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) unanimously approved a state audit of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District (ARUESD). The audit was requested by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and unanimously approved on the consent calendar.
The audit by the California State Auditor will focus on the Alum Rock Board of Trustee actions over the past five years to determine if the board adhered to applicable laws and regulations including, but not limited to, Political Reform Act, Brown Act, employment law, municipal contracting, conflict of interest, and appointment, implementation, and operation of the Bond Oversight Committee. The audit will also determine if the board's actions had or could have any negative impact on the financial, administrative, leadership, and programmatic stability to provide required student educational services.
This request follows a November 2016 audit conducted by the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) which concluded there is sufficient evidence that fraud or misappropriation of funds may have occurred. The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) requested the initial FCMAT audit following an anonymous allegation of fraudulent billing within the ARUESD for construction and program management services. The Board of Trustees of the ARUESD have not yet implemented all of the recommendations from the FCMAT audit.
Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools, stated, "I understand my duty and obligation under the Education Code is to protect the students and families in Santa Clara County and to monitor the educational achievement and fiscal health of all school districts. As a result of the persistent signs of fiscal distress in the district, I have provided emergency support through the appointment of a fiscal advisor. This new audit will provide essential information in support of our ongoing oversight and monitoring of the ARUESD."
Dr. Dewan appointed Dr. William Gillaspie, former deputy administrative officer for the (FCMAT), as the fiscal advisor for Alum Rock Union Elementary School District. He began his official duties on April 23 and is assisting the district with strengthening its financial and operational processes. He is empowered to work with the district to correct fiscal issues and ensure fiscal stability in Alum Rock.
"Dr. Dewan has been a committed, bold leader on behalf of the Alum Rock community. She and the County Office of Education staff have done significant work in conducting oversight of the school district and working to provide stability for students and community. I am grateful to Senator Beall and Assemblymember Kalra for requesting this state audit and I believe it will be useful in addressing concerns," said President Rosemary Kamei, Santa Clara County Board of Education.
"This is a win for Alum Rock parents and community members who deeply care about our students and their education," commented Trustee Darcie Green, Santa Clara County Board of Education. "I advocated for greater transparency and accountability as a board member in Alum Rock and I am proud to support this effort as a member of the SCCBOE. It's important that Alum Rock students get the best possible education through effective and stable leadership and fiscal responsibility."
Public agencies, including school districts, have a duty to the public to be fiscally responsible by using public dollars wisely and complying with all 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. 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.