I constantly hear how bad the Obama Administration is because of all of the scandals and I certainly agree that former President Jimmy Carter’s legacy as the worse President in history is in jeopardy but I don’t think that’s the real story here. I think the real story is that we accept scandals so easily and believe this kind of behavior is normal. Let me briefly explain what I mean by recounting an incident that happened to me in recent months. This story is true and from my forty-four years of experience in education I think it is more common than one might think.
In March I resigned, as Business Manager, from the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology which serves Globe, Miami, Hayden, Superior, and San Carlos. I told the Governing Board that I would not compromise my credibility by continuing to work in the School District. (Strangely, they never asked what I meant by that statement.) There were a number of issues that brought me to this point but one in particular crossed a line I could not tolerate. An employee was paid $2,121.00 out of a Federal Program for supposedly overseeing the implementation of a grant for three of our member Districts. The problem was that this employee was not entitled to this money and the Superintendent knew that prior to approving payment. The following information should clarify this point.
The employee’s regular job description already covered overseeing Federal Projects. This meant that the employee was paid twice to do the same job.
There was nothing in the Federal Project that authorized the payment this employee.
The Superintendent, Pete Guzman, was told repeatedly, by me, not to make the payment because it was not a legal expense and he authorized the payment anyway.
Outside Auditors determined that the payment was an “ineligible expenditure” and stated in the exit report that the stipend may have to be paid back to the State. They also said that the employee’s documentation of work performed was “not complete and approved”.
I made a request to the Board President to place this item on the agenda because the Superintendent, Pete Guzman, refused my request. To his credit the Board President put the item on the agenda.
At a regular meeting of the Governing Board they refused to do anything about the situation and simply killed the matter by voting on the Superintendent’s recommendation to table the issue.
The Department of Education has been looking into the incident for some time but there has been no indication that they want to get involved. Their position is that the amount is too small to worry about. They don’t seem to be too concerned with the moral or legal implications. The last I heard from the Arizona Department of Education is that they can’t find any information on the Audit. I’m not joking.
Throughout this entire ordeal I was made to feel that I was the problem. I was given the impression that I was making a big deal out of nothing and it would all go away if I would just shut my mouth. It was clear that if I wanted to continue to be a part of the fraternity then I needed to get in line with the Superintendent and Board. I was told that this was a distraction from all the good things that we were doing. In short the, “end justified the means “.
Is all of this a bit strange or I am going crazy? These folks are your neighbors, friends, and relatives. They are just like you and I, except they chose to condone something they knew was wrong. There was not one good reason for them to allow this to happen! Doing the right thing would have been so easy but for some reason they decided to ignore the problem. How can they have so little regard for the truth? How can they be so much like the Obama Administration?
/s/ Neil Barwick
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