Tue, May

Time to End Board of Ed’s Naiveté


PERSPECTIVE-I only hope the members of the LAUSD Board of Education do not receive e-mails from Nigeria which offer “risk-free” financial opportunities. If that occurs, the school system will be bankrupt in short order. 

You see, the current Board has no concept of due diligence or stewardship. 

When a big-ticket project is put before them, it will receive the stamp of approval without regard to budgetary considerations and with no plan to evaluate progress. 

For example, why not approve $90 million for a new payroll system? Let’s push forward. We are certain it will work; just tell us when it’s ready for implementation and push the start button. It cost another $37 million to fix the disaster that followed and disrupted the lives of many teachers. 

A more contemporary example is MISIS – the replacement for ISIS (and who wouldn’t want to replace anything named ISIS!). Its cost of $130 million dwarfs that of the payroll system. 

This article, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a respected worldwide organization with over 400,000 members, provides a good chronology of the inept oversight and management that was the trademark for implementing the system. It may cost another $100 million to overhaul it and undo the errors to vital student records. 

There are other examples of costly SNAFUs; you will find them in one of my earlier articles

The reaction to major failures by the Board is usually of the day-late-and-dollar-short variety.

Board Member Tamar Galatzan (photo) wanted an audit of why the rollout of MISIS was such a calamity. Excuse me, Ms. Galatzan, didn’t you and your colleagues think of authorizing an independent audit of the testing and results prior to implementation? That’s what is supposed to occur prior to the launch of important systems. 

According to Howard Blume’s article in the LA Times, her reaction about the future of MISIS was, “But it might take us a little longer than we had expected or hoped to get there.”    

Not a word of concern about the cost. 

I attended a Neighborhood Council meeting where Galatzan appeared, purportedly in her capacity as a sitting LAUSD Board Member. She has been trying to make the rounds of NCs in her district lately. I am sure it is a coincidence that these visits fall close to the upcoming election on March 3rd. 

I and other stakeholders asked her about the LAUSD’s history of failures. 

Her answer: “We were lied to!” 

I have no doubt administrators lied. 

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The sad truth is that those entrusted with any organization’s finances have to assume there is risk of misinformation, if not outright lies, when it comes to assessing performance and results before rollouts. 

The LAUSD Board does not get it. Did they not learn from earlier failures or from the well-publicized debacle of Kathleen Sebelius’ mismanagement of ACA’s implementation? They are disconnected from the real world. They are unaccountable and do everything to downplay the loss of many hundreds of millions of dollars – funds that could have been applied to address worthy objectives. 

Despite their sorry record, it will be an uphill battle to unseat them on March 3. 

If enough teachers get behind some of the challengers, there is a chance to force runoffs. I only hope the teachers and education activists will make a concerted effort to get out the vote.


 (Paul Hatfield is a CPA and former NC Valley Village board member and treasurer.  He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. He can be reached at: [email protected] )





Vol 13 Issue 16

Pub: Feb 24, 2015

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