School board votes to accept controversial audit, police may investigate

A WCCUSD community member speaks in support of the district's forensic financial audit investigation and report during a board of education meeting Wednesday night. Photo by Marian Davidson.

A WCCUSD community member speaks in support of the district's forensic financial audit investigation and report during a board of education meeting Wednesday night. Photo by Marian Davidson.

The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Board of Education voted Wednesday night to accept a forensic financial audit report of the district’s $1.6 billion bond program and forward the audit report to law enforcement.

The report, prepared by accounting firm Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman LLP (VLS), flagged 58 areas of high and medium risk. The majority of these concerned areas of conflict of interest, compliance with legal requirements and board policies, budgeting practices, vendor contract administration, and change order approval and accounting practices. The report offered 78 recommendations to lower the district’s risk scores.

“When I read this report, it really made me physically sick to think of the way these things were handled over the years,” school board trustee Liz Block said.

The forensic financial audit was commissioned following allegations of mismanagement of funds and corruption by whistleblower and district accountant Dennis Clay in 2015. The school board formed an ad-hoc Clay Investigation subcommittee and in January 2016 approved the nearly $1 million forensic financial audit investigation and report by VLS.

The report was submitted to the district and posted on the WCCUSD website on September 9. It was presented to the Clay Investigation subcommittee in a public meeting on September 15.

At the school board meeting, five members of the public spoke in support of the forensic audit investigation and report, and one spoke in opposition. The school board subsequently approved a motion to accept the audit report, with board trustee Todd Groves voting alone against the motion.

“The process was unacceptably prejudiced and incomplete,” Groves said, adding that because certain individuals mentioned in the report were never interviewed during the investigation, it gave only “half the stories.”

During a closed session prior to Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to forward the forensic financial audit report to law enforcement.

The report also suggested the board “take a hard look at…current internal audit assignments and duties” and consider creating an additional internal audit position, VLS partner Ernie Cooper said.

In accepting the forensic financial audit report, the school board also established a taskforce to oversee the implementation of the recommendations and initiated a 30-day period for the public to comment on the report.

In other business, the board held a public hearing for a high school charter petition from Caliber Schools, approved the 2015-2016 Unaudited Actuals Financial Report and final budget update, and voted to purchase tablets to complete the district’s Common Core Tablet Deployment Plan.

The WCCUSD Board of Education will meet next at Lovonya DeJean Middle School on October 5 at 6:30 p.m.

2 Comments

  1. The trustees’ acceptance of the audit report and its many recommendations vindicates the complaints of Contra Costa Taxpayers Association and others over the years. We now look forward and expect new leadership in the district to take full corrective and financial recovery actions.
    Jack Weir
    President, CoCoTax

    • ritchie cook

      Does it vindicate the complaints of CoCo tax and others? It was a while back ,but there were endless discussions before the bond was even passed to make sure the money was well spent. And then an oversight board was put in place in addition to other safe guards. Let’s say the money should never have been spent and I was still watching the custodian sweep the evening rain water out of the 200 wing of the old Helms, Bayview ,Riverside, crumbling, Ford instead of the modern pleasant site it is today a shabby eyesore bringing down property values. Listen, this project has added value to our homes, joy to our parents, teachers and above all to our students.
      CoCo Tax please let me know when you say “That was tax money well spent tax me more.” Let me know when specific individuals are convicted of wrong doing otherwise as they say you have no proof.

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