Monday, February 25, 2008
Don't hold your breath for the Auditor's report.
My first experience with the State Auditor’s office occurred in the mid 1990’s when I taught continuing education classes at Lake Washington Technical College. Our secretary’s husband was a seasonal grounds worker for the campus. One night he mentioned to his wife that the grounds crew was sent over to the then college President’s residence to remove and install a new hot tub. The old hot tub was subsequently transported to the Director of Facilities’ home. Shocked at the implications, our secretary reported it to the State Auditor. When the investigator showed up, the members of the grounds crew lied to protect their boss, the head of grounds who was caught in the middle. There were no records to review. There was no action against the President or the Director of Facilities.
I tell this story because I do not see how the State Auditor, who is strictly looking into financial wrong-doing, can thoroughly investigate the Edmonds School District. Many of the issues at the District relate to competence and ethics which is not their purview. After all is said and done, their books may have the appearance of propriety (i.e. since they’ve have taken the opportunity to shred many key documents). The heart of the matter is how the leadership chooses to spend the dollars they have and how they conduct themselves.
Currently the state legislature is contemplating a bill to expand the types of crimes committed by teachers that would trigger decertification; including poor professional behavior. There is nothing in place created for check and balances on school Directors and Administrators who are the stewards of millions of dollars and are the examples for the rank and file.
I bring this up now because in April when the Auditors report will be published I know it will not be enough. For after he left Lake Washington Technical College, the Director of Facilities was accused of again of wrong doing at his new place of employment, the University of Washington Bothell Campus. Only this time he was caught and dismissed. The President retired without any consequence to his action. I urge that OSPI intervene and investigate. The students, parents, staff and taxpayers at Edmonds should not have to wait until the current leadership moves on to become a problem elsewhere in the system or retires. Education dollars are too precious to waste.