Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oakland Schools are being charged $25 million in fines for Randy Ward's mismanagement

When Randolph Ward first came to San Diego to be superintendent of SDCOE, the County Office of Education, I couldn't figure out why he didn't insist that Lora Duzyk and Diane Crosier clean up the corruption in the business office. Now I understand.

See all posts about SDCOE.

Oakland schools paying for administrator's errors
Chip Johnson
San Francisco Chronicle
April 15, 2011

It's one thing for Oakland school administrators to miscalculate district finances and be penalized with the loss of authority, which is exactly what happened in 2003 when the district received a $100 million state bailout and was put in the hands of a state-appointed administrator.

It's quite another matter for that administrator to amass more than $25 million in fines and other charges from the state Controller's Office for fiscal mismanagement - and then expect the district to foot the bill.

Yet that is exactly what the state is trying to do.

Those fines and charges were racked up by Randy Ward, the state administrator who led the school district from 2003 to 2006 as part of the state takeover.

Local officials regained control over their beleaguered district in 2009, and say they shouldn't have to pay for Ward's fiscal mistakes. Those mistakes include underestimating payroll liability and failing to reconcile cash accounts.

East Bay Assemblyman Sandré Swanson has intervened in hopes of getting the district off the hook for the $25.25 million in total fines and other costs.

But the situation suggests that on some financial matters, Ward ran the district in much the same cavalier fashion as before the takeover.

Annual audits for the district's cash expenditures were never conducted between 2003 and 2006. Ward led the district during that period. An accounting of cash expenditures conducted in 2010 overstated the district's cash assets by $7 million, said district spokesman Troy Flint.

For a school district that slashed $122 million from last year's budget and faces a projected $30 million deficit in the coming school year, expecting that it can come up with millions of dollars in fines is an unreasonable demand...

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