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Did San Dieguito board gift close to $1 million in public funds to the district's faculty association?

December 11, 2017

 

The CA Ed Code states that unions must repay districts for salaries and benefits paid to teachers when they are on leave to conduct union activities. Ed Code section 44987(a). When teachers go on leave to perform union or association activities, they stop teaching for periods of time so this law is intended to make sure that teachers are not getting paid by the district if they are not working for the district as teachers. Our board, however, has apparently chosen not to seek recoupment of these funds for its students and district. When the district was asked for documents that showed whether reimbursement had been requested or that it had occurred, the district was unable to find any such documents.

 

For years, the association president Bob Croft did not teach, requiring the district to hire a substitute teacher to cover his PE classes. He made almost $200,000 a year and spent his entire time conducting union activities, including activities that at times supported board candidates, out of a classroom that the district gave him to use on Earl Warren Middle School's campus. Instead of asking the union to reimburse the district while he was on leave to conduct union activities, the district appears to have let the union keep the money.  If you divide his total pay of $176,465 by 186 (the number of days in the school year), he was making almost $1000 a day all at taxpayers expense without teaching a single day.

 

Why did the San Dieguito superintendent and board disregard the Ed Code and pay over $100,000+ per year for at least seven years to the faculty association's president (in addition to paying a substitute teacher to cover his classes) without ever requesting reimbursement under the Ed Code, even though there were budget deficits and even though the teachers' Master Contract required reimbursement (see page 45)?  

 

Watchdog knows this is hard to believe, but if you don't believe what we're saying, go and take a look at the Ed Code yourself, section 44987(a)(3rd paragraph):"Following the school district's payment of the employee for the leave of absence, the school district shall be reimbursed by the employee organization of which the employee is an elected officer for all compensation paid the employee on account of the leave." 
 

Next, check out Transparent California to verify Mr. Croft's "salary."  In 2016, he made over $176,000.  Then, review the articles that talk about how he has not taught for at least 7 years (see articles below under "Related Sources"). 

 

Finally, add up the seven years where he worked full time as the association president instead of teaching.  It really starts to add up.  And, he may not have been the only one on leave to do association work.

Hard to believe right?  Try asking the board yourself in a public comment to explain why it failed to seek recoupment of the public funds as required by the Ed Code. And while you're at it, ask it why it gave Bob Croft a 5% salary "early notice" incentive for him to announce his retirement from "teaching" this past February, even though he hadn't taught for at least seven years because he was on 100% leave to do his union work. Was it because in 2016 he personally helped to get elected the two incumbents who approved this little goodie by raising and spending around $40K on their joint campaign? (see Schedule D and E below, as examples of his support).  

 

A report from the San Diego Grand Jury shared with Watchdog examined the practices of PACs and Board members from a different district and recommended that, "in order to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest, Trustees disclose the amount of any campaign contribution" made by an entity whose contract is on the agenda for approval and "recuse themselves from the vote" (see bottom of p. 4, San Diego County Grand Jury 2007-2008, filed May 27, 2008).  But of course, despite Croft's active involvement in their election and the PAC's significant contribution (which by the way exceed the amounts examined by the Grand Jury), neither of the incumbents he supported recused themselves from the decision to allow him to get this benefit.

 

Contract negotiations are currently underway for 2018-2021.  Wonder if those incumbents will recuse themselves this time?  We wonder what will happen with the upcoming 2018 elections?  

 
​​If you don't want to go to a board meeting to ask the board directly why it never requested reimbursement of around $1 million over the past years, try submitting a public records request to see if you get any records proving that the district sought reimbursement. You'll come up empty handed

 

Did the Board have a fiduciary duty to make sure that the faculty association reimbursed the district as the Ed Code required? If it did, did its failure to seek reimbursement amount to the gifting of public funds?

 

Related sources:

 

Education Matters: San Dieguito’s special relationship with its teachers’ union, Del Mar Times, 5/24/17.

 

CA Constitution, Art. XVI, section 6:  Prohibits public agencies from gifting public money or resources to individuals or nonprofit organizations.

 

CA Gov’t Code section 8314: It is unlawful for any elected official, appointee or employee to permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity, or personal or other purposes not authorized by law. 

 

SDUHSD Response to Public Records Request for SDFA Contract 

 

Education News, "School districts paying the salary of teachers union presidents," (10/22/12)

 


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