The answers are pretty sad. It turns out that just about all of them knew a whole lot and they knew it a long time ago.
The Superintendent knew about the program, she knew what it cost, and she knew what it did. She is on the record praising it, which means that she reviewed it. She gave Mr. Potter an endorsement for his spin-off non-profit. She was fully informed. It is very likely that she will claim to have known nothing about it. It won't be credible, but even if it were, that would even more damning. The program was identified as a problem in the 2009 budget. Didn't she claim that she follows up closely on these audit exceptions? Is she telling us that she didn't know where the District was spending a million dollars a year? In a capital budget that didn't have money for needed repairs in schools, how could there be a million dollars a year for this project? Isn't prioritizing the spending her job? She needs to go. Everyone accountable - including her. Her immediate resignation would be good; her immediate dismissal would be better.
The COO knew even more about the program. The District claims that 80% of the spending is on teaching and learning, so $1 million a year is a bigger part of the money he's supposed to be watching and prioritizing. He thought it was more important to spend a million on this than on school building repairs. In addition, the problems in the program were specifically mentioned in the 2009 audit. He was supposed to have been watching it closely. He claimed that he was watching it closely on more than one occassion (following the 2009 audit and the 2010 audit). He absolutely needs to go. The internal auditor, in his resignation letter to Mr. Kennedy, wrote "I believe that you are using these claims to hide the fact that you deceived the school board by not letting them know of the early warnings that I have provided." Mr. Nderu claimed that he warned top administrators and the school board that they weren't providing sufficient oversight and that the district was inappropriately using money from its capital levies for a program designed to help small businesses compete for government contracts. Everyone accountable - especially Mr. Kennedy. He should not be allowed the option to resign; he needs to be fired so it appears that way on his work history.
The Board knew about the program and they knew what it cost. Don't they have a responsibility to set spending priorities? The Board has ultimate responsibility around audits. After this program was cited in the 2009 audit the Board should have been following up on it closely, but they don't follow up on anything. They had repeated warnings from the state auditor and their own internal auditor. The four Board members up for election in the fall should all simply choose not to run. That would be the most gracious exit and the one that we should allow them. If they refuse to go quietly, however, their repeated failures to demand any kind of accountability at all, their repeated failure to follow up on any audit exceptions, their poor choices in budget priorities, and their repeated failure to represent the interests of the community should be the centerpiece of their opponents' campaigns.
We have cause to believe that the Seattle Times knew about this at least as early as July when the 2010 audit was released. We know for certain that they knew about it in December when the internal auditor quit/got fired. Melissa was writing about this mess all through the summer, fall and winter and we know that Times staff reads this blog. They knew. When you read the Times story about the internal auditor's resignation it is so full of passive voice and so empty of names that it is an obvious effort to bury the facts. This is from a story dated December 7, 2010:
In letters to Nderu, which Nderu shared with The Times, the district alleges, among other things, that he told a district employee to deposit a $35,000 check into the account of a nonprofit organization, rather than the district's own accounts, where it should have gone. The nonprofit was a new group formed to provide training services that the district once offered.That's how we can be certain that Linda Shaw knew about this in December. Yet Silas Potter's name never appeared in the paper. The Times didn't write about the program or the mismanagement represented by these failures of oversight - even after the problems were identified by the state auditor. The Times sat on the story.