what Associated Press - CBS2.com Reported:
Apr 16, 2010 10:30 am US/Pacific LOS ANGELES (AP) ― The LAUSD says 15 percent of its contracted hirings over the past eight years have been done improperly.
The Los Angeles school district has found that 15 percent of contracted hirings in its construction program have been improperly done over the past eight years.
The review was ordered after the district's facilities division head was indicted earlier this month on conflict of interest charges stemming from the hiring of employees in his own company.
Schools Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement late Thursday that two employees who oversee hiring in that department have been reassigned.
Cortines says he has ordered further investigation into the "irregular" contracts and any conflicts of interest will be shared with the district attorney's office.
Bassam Raslan, the ex-construction manager, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on nine counts.
what LAUSD SAID:
For Immediate Release April 15, 2010
Contact: Shannon Haber
Superintendent Cortines TAKES FURTHER ACTION ON POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN FACILITIES DIVISION
ACTIONS BASED ON INITIAL FINDINGS OF LAUSD INTERNAL FACILITIES SERVICES DIVISION MANAGEMENT REVIEW
Los Angeles – Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines announced today that he directed the Facilities Services Division leadership to immediately implement staff reassignments to further minimize any perceived or potential conflicts of interest.
This decision came as a result of an internal management review of potential conflicts of interest and the historical hiring of contract professionals through construction management contracts, as well as the April 1, 2010 indictment by the Los Angeles County District Attorney of an independent contractor providing construction management services to LAUSD. The indictment alleges violations of Government Code section 1090, pertaining to conflicts of interest. The independent contractor is currently on unpaid administrative leave.
“We have completed the majority of the internal management review,” Cortines said. “To date, of more than 2,000 contract professional hirings over the last eight years, approximately 15 percent were identified as irregular and require further investigation. In each of these situations, I have directed staff to review the related facts and documents in full detail. In the meantime, we have reassigned two District Facilities employees, who oversee Facilities hiring processes, to positions that do not involve personnel matters. We will take further action as appropriate.”
In is important to note that nearly all of the identified instances of potential conflicts of interest or violations of District policy occurred four to eight years ago. A comprehensive revision to Facilities’ policies regarding the hiring of contract professionals was implemented in 2008. This policy requires contract professionals to absolutely recuse themselves from participating in any LAUSD decision making in which they have a financial interest, including all hiring activities. Furthermore, the internal management review has revealed that no incidents occurred after the 2008 comprehensive policy was implemented.
Evidence related to any apparent deviations in policy will be turned over immediately to the Office of General Counsel for further assessment. The independent audit requested by the District from the City of Los Angeles Office of the Controller will examine these in further detail to determine if conflicts of interest have occurred. If so, the Controller’s Office will refer any evidence of conflicts to the District Attorney’s Office for possible further investigation.
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smf’s two cents:
- OK: not really the sky …and not actually falling….
- Bassam Raslan was not “the district's facilities division head”, he was an independent contractor – a regional manager. And he is entitled to his day in court and a presumption of innocence until then.
- “potential conflicts of interest” are not the same as “improper contractor hirings”
- almost all of this results from an LAUSD Inspector General's investigation turned over to the DA two years ago …and all of it is about stuff that happened four to eight years ago.
- Firewalls were put up to stop this sort of thing from reoccurring (if it occurred at all) even before the IG made his report to the DA.
- The word ‘improper’ appears three times in the AP/CBS story; it is not used in the LAUSD release.
- 15% of the contracts investigated were not “irregular”; they were found preliminarily to be worthy of further investigation. The superintendent's use of the adjective “irregular” is “unfortunate”.
- Allegations were made of a Government Code section 1090 violation at the Community College District’s board’s meeting last Wednesday afternoon …and not about four-year-old stuff but ongoing stuff.