Cronyism Continues at CUSD

Superintendent Wendy Gudalewicz contracts her long-time friends and former business associates for work often performed by District personnel. These consultants enjoy automatic renewal of annual contracts – for over a million dollars combined. 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. There are no performance objectives by which to hold these consultants accountable. And there is no oversight on invoicing or billing.

Human Systems Dynamics (HSD).  Since 2013, the CUSD Superintendent has contracted with business associate and HSD Founder, Royce Holladay, for professional development services valued at $320,000. The Superintendent has used her public position and title to promote HSD by presenting alongside Ms. Holladay at educational conferences; serving on HSD’s Advisory Group; and leading webinars designed to attract new HSD business. In kind, the Superintendent is promoted in HSD marketing materials and websites; and is featured prominently in Ms. Holladay’s recent book – Adaptive Action. On 6/2/15, the CUSD Superintendent executed a contract with Royce Holladay, for an “HSD Cohort” not to exceed $15,000. The contract end date was later modified (by hand) without written notice in violation of the contract terms. Ms. Holladay was also reimbursed $3,520.23 for first-class airfare, hotel, and car rental – none of which was specified in the contract. [More details here]

Enid Lee.  The Superintendent has contracted with Enid Lee since 2014 to provide equity services to the District at a daily rate of $2,000, not to exceed $180,000 annually. District responses to PRA requests have not produced any deliverables from Enid Lee during her two-year tenure. During the 2015-2016 school year, Enid Lee sent invoices to the District in August, September, and October of 2015 for disbursements of $48,000. She didn’t send a single additional invoice until the last week of school in June 2016. Then at the same time, Ms. Lee sent invoices for November 2015 – June 2016. The Superintendent placed these invoices on the consent calendar for a June board meeting, and the Board approved payment in the amount of $120,000 without question. In at least one case, an invoice stated ½ day meeting, and Ms. Lee was paid for an entire day. It is also unclear from Ms. Lee’s invoices whether her services met the requirements stated in the Statement of Work. [More details here]

Voler Strategic Advisors (Voler)  On 8/27/15, the CUSD Superintendent contracted Voler for public relations services through the District’s legal counsel, Dannis Woliver Kelley (DWK). The arrangement was to pay Voler via a DWK “Special Retainer” in the monthly amount of $8,500, not to exceed $59,500. To the contrary, CUSD’s Professional Services Agreement with DWK states: “District further agrees to pay for major costs and expenses by paying third parties directly…” Any subsequent oral agreement for pass-through payment in keeping with Rule 4-210 violates terms of the DWK contract. Further, the District has repeatedly refused to produce communications between CUSD and Voler in response to PRA requests, claiming “attorney-client privilege.” Both the legality of CUSD doing business with a public relations firm through legal counsel to avoid public scrutiny and disclosure, as well as the payment terms of the arrangement are questioned.  [More details here]

 

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