The board was split over who to appoint on its audit committee with some heated words being exchanged.
At one point there was confusion about what motion was being voted on at the time and board members were talking with staff to clarify. Then trustee Carlos Vasquez accused the superintendent of telling trustee Christene Moss how to vote in the matter.
“That’s a good one,” he said.
Moss took offense and responded quickly, “Don’t say that because nobody tells Chris Moss how to vote.”
At issue was which three trustees to appoint.
Vasquez wanted a spot. He has long been critical of how the district has handled the payroll debacle that led to nearly $1.3 million in over payments and been upset that administrators still haven’t given trustees a copy of an external auditor’s management letter that was due in January. He said he wants to ensure that the district is being transparent to the public.
Siding with him was new trustee Ann Sutherland, who defeated former audit chairman Chris Hatch this May with a campaign that criticized how he oversaw the committee and responded to the payroll issue. She passed trustees a paper listing the former employees who were overpaid, a handful of which she said had access to issuing checks, which she said the audit committee should have looked into more deeply. (Later superintendent Melody Johnson said she would update trustees on what safeguards were and are in place to ensure that employees cannot write themselves checks.) Sutherland did say Hatch was the only committee member to show up for a meeting to address the findings of the internal payroll audit, which could then not be held for lack of a quorum.
“He and others on the committee failed in their fiduciary responsibility,” Sutherland said of Hatch.
Moss defended her qualifications to remain on the committee. She said though she does not have finance degrees or background like others (Sutherland had once been a budget analyst for the California state legislature), her 20 years on the board has included reviewing numerous budget issues.
“We’ve never communicated, so I really don’t know how you can determine my qualifications … You don’t know why a person didn’t show up for a meeting,” Moss said.
Vasquez and Sutherland a motion each to have Vasquez replace either trustees Norm Robbins or Moss on the committee. Siding with them on the votes were trustees Juan Rangel, who typically votes with Vasquez, and newcomer Tobi Jackson. Vasquez worked to help both Sutherland and Jackson get elected this spring.
In the end, Moss, Robbins and Sutherland were appointed to the board with a 6-3 vote. In favor were Jackson, Moss, Robbins, T.A. Sims, Judy Needham and Ray Dickerson, who is board president.