OC Weekly exposes more corruption at the SAUSD

The OC Weekly has cracked another case of corruption over at the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD).  Reporter Dafodil Altan exposed what appears to be a case of spending taxpayer money on remodeling – without properly informing the entire SAUSD School Board and the publi.  Here are a few excerpts from Altan’s article:

In 2007, the Santa Ana Unified School District’s (SAUSD) lease on an office building on Alton Street was set to expire. The district decided to stop leasing this and two other facilities and instead move several departments to SAUSD-owned buildings, including the main office. SAUSD took out a $29 million loan, $22 million of which would be used for the move and construction of a new warehouse.

The district left itself some wiggle room when it came to spending the money: A report put out by the investment company that issued the loan states that money was to be used “primarily” for the relocation of those departments. And, much to the consternation of some SAUSD employees and at least one school-board trustee, the district has done some wiggling—without informing the public about it.

District spokeswoman Angela Burrell says the Relocation Project was “referenced” during SAUSD building updates on three separate occasions this year. A review of district minutes for the dates she provided indicates that building updates were indeed given and that two references to the project were made. There is no record of a presentation dealing with the expansion of Police Services or the moving and revamping of additional departments.

District employees who spoke to the Weekly on condition of anonymity say that additional renovations at the district office picked up speed after the arrival last February of Joe Dixon, the former head of facilities for the beleaguered Capistrano Unified School District. Dixon was appointed assistant superintendent for Governmental Relations and Facilities at a salary of $164,000 per year. Soon after, he initiated the repainting, re-carpeting, and knocking down and building of walls for the Facilities department’s new offices (including the blending of two former offices for his own). “He didn’t have to do much; he just shifted some desks around,” Burrell says. “There was no remodel.”

Board president Jose Hernandez says he has been kept abreast of all the changes made within the administration building and doesn’t object to them. “I was told the renovations were minor, between $5,500 and $7,500,” he says of the Facilities department changes. But he doesn’t recall, he says, if the information for those renovations, as well as others, were ever disclosed publicly.

Palacio believes the public is owed a presentation and cost breakdown of additional changes being made at the district office. “If these things are no big deal, then why wasn’t the public told?” he asks.

Be sure to read the entire article at this link.

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