The San Ysidro School District’s dark days were even darker than previously known and compromised the school bond program, according to a new County Grand Jury report.
Former district officials misspent school bond funds, double paid vendors, spent $45 million on an ill-advised land purchase and fulfilled few promises made to voters who approved a $250 million bond measure in 1997, according to the report released Tuesday. About $376,900 removed from the bond fund may still be unaccounted for.
“Prior SYSD boards did not perform due diligence and disregarded their fiduciary duty, approving expenditures from bond proceeds for purposes other than those listed in the ballot measure,” the Grand Jury wrote. “The district has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term debt with little to show for it.”
San Ysidro’s superintendent Manuel Paul and board member Yolanda Hernandez were among 18 people convicted in a wide-reaching corruption probe by the San Diego County district attorney that concluded in 2014. Hernandez was one of five public officials forced from office in the South Bay, and Paul spent time in prison for a separate federal corruption charge.
While the criminal charges focused on gifts from contractors, the Grand Jury report highlights lapses in San Ysidro’s bond spending and record-keeping.
The 19-person citizen jury recommended an independent forensic audit.
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This is just one reason voters should reject future school bond initiatives, including any on their June or November ballots.
If you want to see how school bonds work, just follow the money. The building industry association and school construction
contractors contribute the majority of the money school board candidates collect, and also provide most of the funding
for school bond initiative political campaigns. In return, the school board members they funded and now own, find ways
both legal and illegal to funnel new school bond money to those contractors, in many cases failing to do the work promised
in the initiative campaigns and other promises to the voters. Before any voters looks at their ballots, they should look
at their last property tax bill and see how much of their taxes are already going to help pay off previous school bonds.
Then vote no on any new ones.
Thank you VOSD and Ashly McGlone for keeping the public informed on this terrible waste of taxpayer money through deceit , mismanagement and what may very well be corruption and fraud.
Readers should be reminded this same Dolinka Group responsible for pushing these bonds (at a nice profit for them and who knows what kickbacks or quid pro quo) and the attorney Dan Shinoff who represented SYSD are both active and what appear to be favored contractors of the Superintendent John Collins led Poway Unified School District as well. The now illegal and infamous "billion dollar bond" PUSD thrust on unsuspecting taxpayers at the behest of John Collins with the aid of the Dolinka Group and counsel of Dan Shinoff has very similar yet larger scale characteristics of what is reported here about SYSD.
One is forced to wonder why PUSD continues to allow Dolinka Group to have ANY dealings with PUSD putting taxpayers in further jeopardy of additional questionable or bad deals. Similarly, one must wonder why PUSD continues to employ attorney Dan Shinoff who has been discredited and penalized for his (bad or lack of) service to SYSD and most recently was responsible for a massive data breech of private student data for over 30,000 students, in direct violation of federal privacy laws. Could there be some quid pro quo relationship between John Collins and the Dolinka Group or Dan Shinoff? Could there be some back room ties between these entities and any of the three PUSD Board members who support their continuing to be funded by PUSD? These board members are TJ Zane, Michelle Occonner Ratcliff and Andy Patapaw. Should there perhaps be a grand jury investigation into the dealings of the Dolinka Group, Dan Shinoff, John Collins and these three board members? Many of your readers and taxpayers who cannot fathom why the board would support such discredited entities think so.
Given the close ties board member TJ Zane has to the Republican of San Diego County (a paid employee), should there be an investigation into any Dolinka Group or Shinoff donations to the Party? Could there be a pay to play situation going on? Honest people certainly hope not. Given the record of Dolinka Group and Shinoff, it is probably worth investigating however.
Thank you again VOSD for your good and timely reporting.
I do recall that it was reported that Mr. Paul was burning documents on school property AFTER he was no longer superintendent. So that is probably where at least some of the missing documents went. This proves yet again how important it is to have a Bond Oversight Committee that has real power. There is too much temptation apparently in bond monies.
@sosocal Taxpayers should resoundingly vote NO on each and every bond put before them unless it has been fully vetted by an INDEPENDENT committee of citizens and TAXPAYERS with no financial or other interest involved should the bond pass. A statement of the findings of this group should be required to be included in the ballot proposition. This alone would help ensure the profiteers like Dolinka Group have a much more difficult time defrauding taxpayers with the assistance of school district administrators and/or board members.
There is a storm brewing -
When one runs for office it should be a humble attempt to SERVE, not an arrogant attempt to USE.
it is unfathomable to imagine that those who sat on the previous San Ysidro Board including Mr. Paul would choose to use their position for personal, political or special interest gain - but that is exactly what happened.
One thing for sure breaking news today, reported by the Voice of San Diego will most certainly deter any rational voter from voting for another Bond any time soon.
THIS IS WHY BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEES LIKE SWEETWATER UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE SO IMPORTANT - too bad their value is marginalized with allegations such as 'they are overstepping'. PERHAPS WHAT MAY BE NEEDED IS A LEGAL REVIEW OF ALL EXISTING BOC'S.
San Diego County Office of Ed 'in this situation' has failed, and failed miserably. i believe i recall reading where there were allegations from a Financial person working in the San Ysidro District office that they were being told to inflate the debt of the District, by a County employee, at a time when employees were on strike in an attempt to 'cry poor, we can't afford to pay you more'.
There is a storm brewing - and I believe it will be a revolt of NO MORE TAXES!!!!!! - because we have no trust.
@anniejc j You are so correct. There seems to be this irresistible lure for elected (so called) "representatives" and their appointees to feel free to use other peoples money for their personal or political gain. As far as citizen oversight goes, there can be no such thing as "overstepping". What has happened in SYSD is but a small pebble in a massive quarry of misuse of taxpayer dollars due to a lack of "overstepping" oversight.
Taxpayers need to understand this simple formula: Bond = INCREASED TAXES. The profiteers will always set it up with scare tactics about how some service will severely suffer if this TAX INCREASE doesn't happen to further enrich those who are in the business of siphoning off tax dollars.
@Steve Sarviel @anniejc j Perhaps SIR you might want to take time out to attend a Sweetwater Board meeting and send your message home 'there can be no such thing as 'overstepping' - as the majority of our Board seems to react as you would to a mosquito on
a warm summer evening.
We taxpayers must accept some responsibility for what has/is happening - far too many believed those they voted in 'would take care of business' alas, nothing could be further from the truth.