San Ysidro School District teachers ripped off? County education board superintendent suspected of malfeasance
In 2014, the board of theSan Ysidro School Districttold the teachers it was nearly broke and asked them to swallow a pay cut of 8 percent. The teachers went on strike, then settled for 1 percent, but now they are demanding money back.
In a claim filed July 1, they say that the board hid deep in a books and supplies account some $4 million that would have covered a decent pay hike. Moreover, the county office of education, overseer then of the district's chaotic finances, failed to take notice. In fact, the teachers allege, two top county education officials "purposely hid" the money to make the district financial picture look "more dire than it was."
Such "misleading and deceitful actions," according to the claim filed with the county board of education, forced the strike "when there were funds available to prevent" it.
Randolph E. Ward
As they press for their losses to be restored, members of the teachers' bargaining unit, the San Ysidro Education Association, are calling for the resignations of county school superintendent Randolph E. Ward and a top aide, Lora Duzyk, whom allegedly was directly involved in overseeing district finances. The teachers' association president, Guillermina Sandez, told the school board the two county officials' actions amounted to "institutionalized racism" against poor Latino youth.
Meanwhile, a call for the resignations of Ward and Duzyk came July 7 from another quarter, the California Taxpayers Action Network. As reported in La Prensa, the network filed a lawsuit alleging that superintendent Ward set things up so that he and Duzyk could receive pay raises without performance reviews.
The complaint alleges that the superintendent tied his salary hikes to those of county office of education teachers and, since he negotiated the teachers' contracts, had an inherent conflict of interest. Duzyk, the court filings note, was paid by the San Ysidro district as its overseer from 2013 to 2015 and saw her salary jump 6 percent while she advocated cuts for the San Ysidro teachers.
And a report issued May 24 by the San Diego County Grand Jury calls for an "independent forensic audit" of the San Ysidro School District, noting that hundreds of millions in long-term debt had been amassed "with little to show for it." The grand jury report said the district has ignored citizens' requests made as far back as 1998 to form a bond-oversight panel. Voters in 1997 had approved a $250 million bond issue, and it would not be until three years later before a state law took effect requiring citizen oversight.