Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pottergate: Done and a Lesson Learned

The Seattle Times is reporting the following:

- Silas Potter was sentenced to 3 years, 7 months in jail.   He could get credit for the eight and a half months time that he has already spent in jail.
- One accomplice, David Johnson, was convicted in early November of 30 counts and will sentenced in early Jan.
- Potter and Johnson "are jointly responsible for restitution of $168, 275."
- The other accomplice, Lorrie Kay Sorensen, was sentenced to 60 days of home detention with electronic monitoring.   She must pay $83k in restitution.

The most basic lesson is accountability. There was failure from the top down.  Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, the superintendent at the time, is the least responsible but she should have realized that Mr. Potter's direct supervisor, Fred Stephens, was distracted by the murder of his son and the subsequent trial.   Additionally, employees within JSCEE either feared or avoided Potter; that was a well-known situation and yet no one at the top seemed concerned.  Potter never seemed to get challenged on the spending or outcomes and yet there were several directions at JSCEE where he could have been done and was not.

Then there were Board Directors Steve Sundquist and Peter Maier.  Sundquist had a heads up on something being off but, probably not wanting that dreaded "micromanaging" tag, let it go.  Maier was far more culpable and violated what is probably one of the key issues to being on any Board.  If you receive information from a trusted source (in this case an independent report generated by the district) about the program, you share that information with the rest of your board.  You don't get to use your own judgment about what the board should or should not know. That's what he did.

I think this has a lesson going forward about creating specialized programs -whether for staff or students - that don't have real oversight, clear goals and follow-up for outcomes.  Oversight provides accountability.

5 comments:

erik tanen said...

The district needs a thorough house cleaning. They need to have every program and department audited by an outside agency that has teeth.
The problem is,in watching the recent investigations of the overtime and gas mismanagement stories and the doe eyed response by the district does not give me any confidence in letting the district be in charge of $500,000,000 build out. The district managers cannot or do not want to be accountable to our money and how it's managed. I guess that's a general problem with government in general.

mirmac1 said...

Aren't we forgetting that Ron English got a free pass?! He, of anyone of the ethically-challenged JSCEE crowd, knew full well this was messed up. Yet he, of all of them, is the only one who swore an oath to uphold the constitution of Washington and the U.S. of A, and by extension, its laws.

I understand an accomplice is someone who stood by as a crime was committed, then did not report it. Not for fear of bodily harm or retaliation but just because.

Why is he still associated with SPS?

Anonymous said...

It wasn't just Maier and Sundquist. It was also Carr and Martin-Morris and DeBell.

They all should have been voted off the island for their performance. The stench of the MGJ period needs to stick with that full board for always.


DistrictWatcher

Charlie Mas said...

I want to take this opportunity to clarify a common misconception.

The popular belief is that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Mr. Kennedy were dismissed specifically in reaction to this scandal, their apathy about it, and their refusal to accept responsibility. That's not the case.

If you go back and review the Board comments when they voted to dismiss the district's top two executives, they were very clear that they did it because they felt that they could no longer trust them. And, in the absence of trust, the job was impossible.

It was not this single issue. The "Pottergate" scandal was merely the last in a series of lies and deceptions from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Mr. Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

Get real.
There was oversight: read the minutes of the board meetings when potter "briefed" the board. It was a love fest by all board members. They never asked what it cost. They never questioned him on real outcomes. The board realized seattle didn't want meaningful questions about their affirmative action plan - especially since I-200 made it illegal.