Tuesday, April 26, 2011

APS responds to Ethical Advocate Complaint - it is still a fraud.

More than a month after the complaint was filed, the leadership of the APS has finally responded to the allegation that they misled an investigator from the State Auditors Office when he was led to believe that whistle blower complaints have been given the individual review and approval that is required by school board policy.

Their response ends; "This issue is considered closed."
It is considered closed by the people against whom the complaint was filed.

The boldface is mine, to indicate the issues that I will elaborate upon.

Submitted By: Admin
Submitted On: 4/25/2011 5:56:21 PM
Comment: Mr. MacQuigg – Thank you for your patience in waiting for your response to this matter. Your complaint stated that two APS employees “deliberately misled an investigator from the Office of the New Mexico State Auditor”. Two employees did meet with representatives from the Office of the State Auditor’s Office on August 27, 2010 to discuss the whistleblower process that was used by the APS Internal Audit Department. The delay in the response to you is a result of seeking clarification of that conversation. The process used in resolving whistleblower complaints was discussed and includes responding to the individual that files the complaint, maintaining the files on the issues, and reporting the statistical information to the Audit Committee. (1)In the course of the discussion, it was made clear that maintaining confidentiality was important and the reports were not taken to the Audit Committee for approval as that would result in the whistleblower issues becoming public. (2)The other reason whistleblower complaints are not taken to the Audit Committee is it would result in no response being available until after the issues are presented to the committee for approval. This could result in delays of up to six months. The Whistleblower policy (G.15) has been in place since 9-3-2003 when it was initiated. There has been no change to that policy. The procedural directive has been in place since 9-3-2003, also with no change. (3)Neither the policy nor procedural directive indicates that the reports will be taken to the Audit Committee or the Board of Education for approval. (4)The only whistleblower information that has been presented to the Audit Committee has been statistical in content, explanations of the process, and updates when the vendor relationship has been changed. There have been some whistleblower complaints that have resulted in audits being conducted on specific issues, but (5)the original complaint has never been presented to the Audit Committee or Board. (6)It is recognized that the policy describing the various Board of Education Committees did reference taking whistleblower complaints to the Audit Committee for approval. This has never been done and the minutes of the Audit Committee can be reviewed to verify this. The policy B.07 contained the statement “An Audit Committee to (7)review and recommend approval or action(s) associated with the District’s Annual Audit, any internal audits(s), audits associated with the Capital Outlay and Technology and any employee whistleblower complaints.” This was effective as of 2-19-2003 and pre-dated the Whistleblower Policy. (8)This policy (B.07 Board Committees) was most recently replaced with BD1 Board of Education Committees on 8-18-2010. (9)This issue is considered closed.
At highlight 1; Audit Committee review of complaints would compromise confidentiality lacks basis in fact. The truth is that the Audit Committee meets in Executive Session (in secret) anytime they want to. Confidentiality would not be compromised by a meeting in secret.

At 2; complaints could not be closed until after an Audit Committee Meeting reviewed the case. The truth, the review is of the final disposition; it does not predate it. This is nonsense on its face.

At 3, the district admits that there is no procedural directive indicating complaints will be reviewed and approved. The statement is correct. The fact that the administration did not create a procedural directive to implement board policy is proof of administrative incompetence or corruption. I am surprised they admit it so candidly.

The statement that "policy" does not indicate that complaints will be reviewed is more nonsense. The whole point is that, board "policy" clearly indicates that complaints will see review by the Audit Committee.

At 4, the district freely admits that not one single complaint has seen review and approval.

At 5, another admission that not one single complaint has seen an Audit Committee Review.

At 6, the district admits that Board Policy does "reference" the commitment to offer review of the administrative handling of complaints against the administration.

At 7, the district quotes the actual School Board Policy that charges the Audit Committee with review and approval of any (all) whistleblower complaints.

At 8, the district admits changing board policy by deleting any specific reference to the duties of the Audit Committee, including whistleblower complaint review. They replaced the reference with a promise to revisit the subject of specific committee responsibilities sometime in the future.

They incurred a debt to more than 300 whistleblowers and now they think they can erase the debt by changing the wording of the policy that created it.

The inherent flaw in APS whistleblower protection program is that complaints against administrators are adjudicated by other administrators. A complaint against Winston Brooks will be adjudicated by one of his subordinates. This situation creates the appearance of a conflict of interest; a violation of the School Board's own code of conduct.

The conflict of interest is resolved when the board reviews and approves the handling to make sure that an administrator has not abused the process. Administrators are not accountable to the public; the board is. It is critical that the integrity of the process is guaranteed by someone who is accountable to the public. When the board reneged on its responsibility to insure that the process was clean, it made the whole process suspect. It harmed the process.

No indication was offered in the administrative response as to who handled it. For all I know it was handled by one of the two administrators accused of the misconduct. In which case, how can the handling have been delayed by "seeking clarification" of a conversation in which she was a participant?

In essence, the leadership of the APS admits making a commitment to protect whistleblowers and defends its failure protect them by arguing that it never has.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The leadership of the APS is corrupt to its core. The Journal knows about it, all of the establish media do, and none of them will investigate and report up it.

All this is of little consequence to those who have never filed a whistleblower complaint. It is of little consequence to those who filed complaints that were adjudicated to the satisfaction of the complainant. But what about the complainants who believe their complaints received short shrift? Where is the (impartial) final hearing the school board promised them?

And why should they believe another commitment made by the school board, ever?
"I don't have to keep my promises because
I have never kept my promises before."
The latter speaks to the likelihood of the former, it does not
justify it.

Is this really the example we want to set for students?

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