The Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in San Jose violated state law and its own policies in operational and financial practices, the state auditor reported May 23.
The district has been under scrutiny since 2016 for its governance, financial operations and contracting practices.
“Our audit identified concerns in all of these areas,” the auditor wrote. “We found that the board of trustees and district staff have violated state law and district policy in their operational and financial practices. The board and district committed these violations despite the fact that two other monitoring entities have issued recommendations to improve the district’s policies and practices in areas where we also found problems, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education has increased its oversight of the district. In particular, we noted weaknesses related to the district’s construction project oversight, financial interest disclosures, and public transparency.”
The auditor added, “We also question the district’s decision to hire the same contractor both to manage the construction of school improvement projects and to oversee that management, a decision that profoundly compromised quality control.”
During the past several years, school board members did not consistently attend board meetings, and the district violated state law by paying board members for meetings they did not attend.
One board member did not properly recuse himself from a vote involving the hiring of his son, while another recused herself from a vote when she had a potential conflict of interest but did not properly explain the nature of that conflict. In addition, the district did not ensure that it posted board meeting agendas in compliance with state laws, potentially limiting public involvement.
The board had not taken action as of March 2019 to implement several recommendations a state-established monitoring entity made in 2017 to improve district governance and operations.