Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The latest on the Seattle Public Schools financial scandal

Board likely to oust Seattle schools superintendent, Seattle Times
After 3 ½ years as Seattle Public Schools superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson's tenure appears to be over.

The Seattle School Board clearly signaled Tuesday night that it intends to dismiss Goodloe-Johnson and immediately appoint Chief Academic Officer Susan Enfield as interim superintendent.

The board will vote Wednesday night on both actions, one week after two investigative reports revealed the misuse of public money and mismanagement at the top.

The seven-member board also is poised to oust Chief Financial and Operations Officer Don Kennedy.

Likely interim superintendent is experienced educator, Seattle Times
The woman likely to become interim superintendent of Seattle Public Schools is an experienced administrator who once taught high-school English and has degrees from Stanford University, Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Susan Enfield, 42, joined Seattle Public Schools in 2009. She was hired by schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who is likely to be ousted by the School Board Wednesday night over a financial scandal.

Silas Potter: 'I've been thrown under the bus' in Seattle schools scandal, Seattle PI
"It's a lot bigger than Silas Potter," he said. "They're trying to minimize their exposure of what they've done and maximize what Silas has done."

Potter denied being the mastermind behind the misappropriation of district funds, which has triggered a criminal investigation, state audit and possible firing of the school superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

Seattle's School Board forced to depend on superintendent's honesty, Seattle Times
School Board members work for per diem only — a max of $4,800 a year. The seven-member board has just two helpers, who mostly do scheduling and office support.

"The way it's set up, the board is almost totally dependent on the superintendent's staff to give them honest information," says Dick Lilly, who was on Seattle's board from 2001 to 2005. "Because of that, what's in that e-mail, alone, is cause for firing."

The mixed record of Seattle school Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Seattle Times
We like some of the results of her tenure, including more high school college-prep classes, more college-bound students and the transparency offered by new districtwide report cards.

But the good cannot outweigh the bad. In all honesty, the scales have been tipping in the wrong direction for some time.

A fear of retaliation and an official policy that keeps Seattle Public Schools employees from directly raising concerns with the school board are at least partly to blame for a scandal involving $1.8 million in misused public funds, auditors and investigators say.

In January, the city yanked a $500,000-a-year contract for the Urban League's youth-violence prevention work and awarded it to other organizations. The city criticized the Urban League for submitting vague, inaccurate invoices — accusations similar to those raised by auditors in the schools scandal.

The city also cut long-standing financial support of the Urban League's center to help minority small-business owners to get construction contracts, deciding to seek other bidders for the first time in years.

Urban League on school scandal: We 'did nothing wrong', Seattle PI
Responding to an audit report that the organization took $595,000 in questionable payments from Seattle Public Schools, leaders of the Urban League on Wednesday said the organization did nothing improper.

Interim CEO Tony Benjamin said the money in question was spent as specified by the district contract.

"The Urban League did nothing wrong," Benjamin at a news conference at the League's Seattle office. "The Auditor's report challenged us to get better. This is a real challenge and it's not just a challenge for the Urban League, but for all of us."

Just bringing in a new superintendent won't really solve things. A much deeper approach is needed, and I hope you will heed the Rahm Emanuel axiom that "you never want to let a serious crisis go to waste." You will be tempted, particularly with an election looming, to go for a quick fix, avoiding a damaging flood of further revelations and firings. That would be to waste the crisis.

Unlike several other local governments, King County declined to participate in a business development program run by the Seattle Public Schools that is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

"We couldn't understand what value the county would receive, and as a result, King County made no financial contribution to this program," Ray Moser, the county's Economic Policy Advisor & Business Relations Manager, said in an e-mail.

No comments:

Post a Comment