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Monday, September 17, 2012

Potter Scandal Grows in scope

From today's Seattle Times: $1.3M more might be misspent in Seattle schools scandal

The hits just keep coming.

24 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

To note, these are not classified as "losses." This is spending that had "lack of adequate internal controls and supporting documentation."

It is clear that no one was watching Potter and he knew it. This is shoddy stuff.

That Accounting missed lack of price quotations from more than one vendor, a unsigned contract, purchase orders generated after vendors submitted invoices, lack of detail in invoices, etc. is disturbing. All of this got by them?

And, or course, where was the Internal Auditor?

As well, Fred Stephens was AWOL and frankly, probably should have been given a leave of absence after his son was murdered.

It's a sad thing all the way around for a district that has had severe management issues.

mirmac1 said...

Ay Caramba!

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to the SAO Report.

Anonymous said...

Culture of fear-didn't we have this also under Ochefske. This culture is still ongoing at some schools where some principals feel they are entitled to reform their schools in any manner.

Anonymous said...

The hits just keep coming in ST's big letters because charter needs to pass and well what better way to flame the wrath of the mass, then to pile on the incendiaries. Where was ST when common citizens like Chris Jackins were calling for better oversights and accounting of SPS funds 4 or 5 years ago-- the building of JSCEE, the rounds of school closures?? How many TENS of millions did we wasted on those fiascos?

In the meantime, you have some school board members with the help of ST editors working hard to abrogate Board authority and oversight power even to the point of undermining fellow board members who are trying to do right. You have a brand new Super who is trying to stay alive in this perfect storm. He will swim to those who has the means to throw him a life jacket.

-still has LTM

Anonymous said...

@Still has LTM - Charters have less taxpayer oversight, not more. This should be an EASY one for charter opponent organizations to message.

EdVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

Boy, people are going to town in the comments. Not good for BEX IV.

As for charters, I can point out that the Board, when this got figured out, fired the Superintendent (for all intents and purposes) and the voters then voted out the two key Board members who did not do their jobs well.

That's accountability at the highest level. If you think you would have this kind of ability for accountability at a charter level, think again.

(Yes, there are lower-level people who got hand-slaps but Potter and Co. are likely to go to prison for this.)

Patrick said...

The thing is, the District keeps getting wake up call after wake up call about how their financial controls need work, but it keeps happening. There seems to be a culture at the District offices that they're totally insulated from consequences. The kids don't matter, the families don't matter, the activists can be ignored, management and the Board will always be more concerned with controlling negative publicity than with controlling negative reality. Potter was incredibly stupid and it still took him seven years to get caught. There are probably more still out there.

People on this board probably realize that the District still needs its levy to pass, but things like this make it a really hard sell to the general public, especially those who don't have kids in school.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Someone who follows the rules when they post said...

Anonymous at 6:11, you need to post with a signature or a pseudonym or you'll be (rightfully) deleted. Reposting your comments:

"Everyone that worked for the Districts Maintenance Dept. at the time of these shenanigans knew that this was going on. Some might have questioned why they were taking over jobs that were historically only the Maintenance jobs, but when they did the race card was pulled. It was better just to shut up and hope you still had a job. It was a period of lots of new schools being built without anyone being able to question anything. Sure hopes the culture changes but I doubt it will."

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Everyone that worked for the Districts Maintenance Dept. at the time of these shenanigans knew that this was going on. Some might have questioned why they were taking over jobs that were historically only the Maintenance jobs, but when they did the race card was pulled. It was better just to shut up and hope you still had a job. It was a period of lots of new schools being built without anyone being able to question anything. Sure hopes the culture changes but I doubt it will."

Sign your post...

Anonymous said...

Ach! Delete my repeat of someone else's admonishment!

Sign your post

Anonymous said...

As bad as it seems SPS is with lack of transparency and financial misdeeds, charters can be much worse. SPS salaries are all public record. Charters? Good luck with that one, particularly with administrators.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/article_285e4131-4960-5bac-bd92-0cfd8561596e.html

CT



monster said...

if the charters were well regulated by the legislator would any of you support it

Jan said...

monster: I think charters are a mistake, but I like choice. If charters were truly well regulated, so that they are not approved without community consent, so that they cannot displace existing schools that families want to maintain, so that their obligation to accept and educate all children (ELL and SPED included) was enforced, so that they had community-based governance that equalled what public schools have (doesn't have to be exactly the same -- but it needs to have public/community oversight), so that they could not cherry pick students in a manner that excludes kids with less involved families (who ostensibly need the "innovation" and "extras" that charter schools claim to provide even more than children with involved parents) and so that they could be shut down as easily as they were formed, if they underperform either their promises or their public school counterparts -- then yes, I would vote for them.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

There is an article for you on the PI site.

- Mike H

Charlie Mas said...

Mike H, is it this one?

Unknown said...

Monster, I can say no, I can't support charters because they are not what they say they are and they don't have proven results.

Charters are supposed to be hotbeds of innovation, very accountable and show results. Nope, nope and nope.

Stories are not data and basically, that's what you have with charters. Some good stories,some bad stories and a lot of the same in the middle. Why are we upending our system (and using precious ed dollars) for this?

Better oversight would have made for a better initiative but the people you should be telling that to are the Yes people.

mirmac1 said...

Charlie, it must be this one. Looks like you may be doing some hard time...

dorainseattle said...

At this point I believe that the school board did G-J a favor by firing her. She would otherwise have probably been facing criminal charges herself.

And to think that she left with her pot of gold. Not too bad since she landed fairly well in poor Detroit.

There are some issues about Detroit that could put her in good stead by those in power. An initiative on the ballot there is for corporate takeover of the city. No more superfluous elected mayor or city council. Perfect for our ex-supe.

See Democracy Now, http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2012/9/18/michigan_a_key_battleground_for_labor. "Michigan voters will be asked in November to decide the future of a controversial state law that allows the governor to appoint an unelected emergency manager or corporation to take over financially distressed towns and cities and effectively fire elected officials. The law, which is now on hold, empowers unelected managers or corporations to take over cities and effectively fire elected officials."

Also see an introduction to Detroitopia, http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2012/9/18/detropia_new_film_takes_intimate_look. Just ripe for the pickins by our venture philanthropists. Having G-J there is no accident.

Dora

Charlie Mas said...

Wow, Dora. That's Robocop.

Patrick said...

G-J could simply deny knowing anything about Potter's frauds. That may even be true, as she did not encourage anyone to come to her with bad news. She should have known as part of her job of managing the District, but I don't think doing her job poorly would be a criminal offense.

Charlie Mas said...

When Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was asked about what she knew about Silas Potter was doing, she said that she didn't know anything about it and that he was three levels below her on the org chart and that she couldn't be held responsible for the actions of someone that far from her direct supervision.

The three degrees of separation were from her to Mr. Kennedy, from Mr. Kennedy to Mr. Stephens, and from Mr. Stephens to Mr. Potter.

School principals were also three levels of administration from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. From her to Dr. Enfield, from Dr. Enfield to the Executive Directors of Schools, and from the Executive Directors to the principals.

Could you imagine Dr. Goodloe-Johnson saying that she could not be expected to know what a school principal was doing or be in any way responsible for supervising them? I don't think so.

As much as anything else, it was this rejection of her responsibility that soured the Board on her. Director Carr specifically cited this abdication of responsibility as one of her reasons for dismissing the superintendent.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to develop an evaluation system for administrators - fail the eval, get fired. Just like the teachers.

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