An audit by the state of California found an egregious amount of mismanagement and lack of transparency from the superintendent and board of the Bellflower Unified School District.
The superintendent’s failure to communicate adequately coupled with a board that abandoned its oversight duties has led to a major scandal for the district.
The audit found that the district is keeping $83 million in reserve, an amount significantly greater than the state limit of no more than 10 percent of a district’s budget. This means that millions in school funds have been kept out of the classrooms that need them most.
The scathing findings of the audit call into question the ethics and competency of Superintendent Tracy McSparren, with some calling for her resignation.
Complaints with the excessive reserves, which the audit blamed on “not complying with transparency laws,” include “depriving students of their rights to access equal education,” and “graduating students not prepared for college or careers.”
Perhaps most concerning of all, it appears that the primary victims of BSD’s failure to distribute funds are special needs classrooms and students which did not receive the yearly funding that they were allocated by the state.
While the superintendent’s office consistently failed to comply with public records requests, it wasn’t the only culprit. The audit cited multiple instances of the board violating state law by not disclosing information about the content of board meetings and communications.
The audit determined that in the past six years, the district spent anywhere from 6 percent to 31 percent less than approved in its budget. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising when considering that the California Department of Education found that 61 percent of graduating BSD students were unprepared for college or a career.
Additionally, the audit found that “the district overstated its expenditures in its budgets and interim financial reports to the board and the public, limiting the ability of both to assess its actual spending.”
This story paints a picture of a district eagerly taking from the taxpayer only to ask for even more the following year. While McSparren makes $222k a year, special needs students in BSD go without the essential services they need to flourish in the classroom.
Our school districts have an essential responsibility to students and to see such an outrageous misallocation of funds is a sober reminder of the importance of government transparency. How can California hope to raise the next generation of leaders if we have administrators failing to serve our students and hiding behind red tape?
If you are curious about your child’s school district and how their administrators are paid, you can find more information at TransparentCalifornia.com