Superintendent’s Cronyism

The following comments were delivered at a CUSD Board meeting on 8/16/2016, regarding the Superintendent’s continual hiring of friends at the public’s expense. 

Members of the Board:

Few would argue that the most important responsibilities of a School Board are student achievement, ethical leadership, and fiscal responsibility.

Regarding fiscal responsibility, CUSD Board Policy 3460 states:  The Governing Board is committed to ensuring public accountability and the fiscal health of the district. The Board shall adopt sound fiscal policies, oversee the district’s financial condition, and continually evaluate whether the district’s budget and financial operations support the district’s goals for student achievement.

Tonight, I ask you to demonstrate your commitment to this policy.

Elizabeth Davies, Enid Lee, Royce Holladay, Xavier Campos & Perla Rodriguez. What do they all have in common?

  • These consultants have all enjoyed automatic renewal of annual contracts – for over a million dollars combined.
  • They are all long-time friends and former associates of the Superintendent and were not known to the District prior to her arrival.
  • None of their contracts resulted from a bidding process. They have been contracted for “Special Services” under Government Code 53060. This provision is intended for specialized services on a temporary basis that cannot be fulfilled by public employees. The legal merits of these ongoing contracts under this provision are questionable.
  • None of these consultants’ contracts states specific goals, milestones, or deliverables. Nor are their performances measured by outcomes. They are either paid on a daily basis or monthly retainer regardless of how many hours they work, what they produce, or the value they deliver. Simply put, these consultants have guaranteed income for just showing up.
    • And some of them don’t even show up. Royce Holladay from HSD coaches principals from the comfort of her home in Minnesota. And Enid Lee spends entire days researching and developing equity centered materials from Santa Cruz.
    • Elizabeth Davies of Sacramento has taken Royce’s place and now mentors and coaches principals. How much coaching do these principals need?
    • Xavier Campos & Perla Rodriguez from Voler Public Relations firm didn’t even contract directly with the District, but rather went through the District’s law firm (DWK). Is this even legal….especially considering that DWK’s agreement with the District specifies that third parties will only be used for related legal services.

The list goes on and on. There are no performance objectives by which to hold these consultants accountable. And there is no oversight on invoicing or billing.

While there may be some value in these services, by all measured accounts, it’s a gross misuse of public funds. When this District is projecting a deficit and field trips and enrichment programs are eliminated due to budget constraints, the Superintendent’s frivolous spending on her friends must stop.

I’m fully aware this Board has deliberately delegated its responsibilities and authority to the Superintendent for all District affairs.

Along these lines, Jo Lucey was recently quoted in Mercury News regarding Voler: “It’s an administrative choice”, she says. “It’s not a level of detail the board gets down to.”

With all due respect, Ms. Lucey, I’m not sure how you can do the job you’ve been elected to do if you’re not willing to get into the details.

I would submit to you that the Superintendent is grossly abusing her authority, while her staff lacks the internal controls and procedures to adequately safeguard District funds.

And I wish to remind you that delegating your authority – by rubber-stamping everything the Superintendent places in front of you – does not abdicate you from your responsibility to uphold the law and act in the best interest of the public.

Thank you


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