The End of the road for Seattle School Supt. Goodloe-Johnson? Fraud Scandal Rocks Seattle’s School District; Many call for Superintendent to be Fired

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson with Fred Stephens (Potter's former boss who now works for the U.S. Dept. of Commerce) and Silas Potter, who is at the center of the fraud scandal and apparently on the lam

It’s hard to keep up with all the headlines that are flying fast and furious in the wake of the revelation earlier this week of a $1.8 million fraud scandal that has rocked the Seattle Public School District. But the latest news is that the Seattle Times and School Board President Steve Sundquist, historically two of the biggest apologists and fans of controversial School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, are both saying the superintendent needs to go — either fired by the school board, or  should resign.

(Sundquist also mentions the option of buying out the remainder of Goodloe-Johnson’s roughly $300,000/year contract. But a further expenditure of that kind would not go down well with the Seattle School community. After all, we are all still reeling from the news that, thanks to Potter’s scheme and those who turned a blind eye to it, the school district wasted at least $1.8 million already– money which could have gone into our kids’ classrooms.)

Seattle School Board considers firing superintendent

By Linda Shaw and Steve Miletich

Seattle Times staff reporters

Seattle School Board President Steve Sundquist said Friday the board is considering firing Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson or buying out her contract after a report found she didn’t do more to stop rampant misuse of public money in a district contracting program.

In an appearance before The Seattle Times editorial board, Sundquist said the findings in the newly released report “certainly undermine my confidence in the effectiveness of the management.” — The Seattle Times

(follow link to complete article.)

Seattle school Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson should resign

The Seattle Times Editorial Board says it is time for the superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, to go.

THE emerging details of the financial scandal at the Seattle Public Schools suggest one conclusion: Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson should resign. If she doesn’t, the board should fire her.

She was brought here from South Carolina in 2007 to fix several problems, the first of which was the district’s lax control of its money. The latest mess shows the task has not been done.

The gist of the story is that several years ago the district was having trouble getting enough bids on its smaller construction jobs. It set up a program using capital funds to qualify minority- and women-owned contractors to bid. To run the program, the district hired Silas Potter Jr.

He was a poor choice. Potter was, according to the School Board’s investigator, a “marginal employee” who had left a string of unpaid bills, including his child support and federal taxes. Without permission, he changed the program from qualifying bidders to training people in small businesses, which is not the mission of a public school district.

When the state auditor ruled that capital funds could not be used for such a purpose, the district had to repay the capital fund with $2 million in money that should have gone to the classroom. — The Seattle Times

(follow link to complete article.)

A new “No Confidence” petition demanding Goodloe-Johnson’s removal is now circulating.

More background info here:

Documents detail financial abuse in Seattle schools program

A former Seattle Public Schools manager ran a rogue contracting operation within district offices, replete with overbilling, ethics violations and intimidation of critics, according to documents released by the state Thursday. — Seattle Times

Who is Silas Potter? Or Rather, Where is Silas Potter?

— The Stranger

UPDATE: KING 5 News reported Friday that a Jan. 15, 2009 e-mail by Fred Stephens indicates that Supt. Goodloe-Johnson directed that the school board be kept  in the dark about the damning Sutor Report, which highlighted problems with Potter’s fraudulent operation. [CORRECTION: This paragraph originally stated Dec. 2008 as the date of the e-mail.]

In the summer of 2008, problems persisted and the Sutor Group was hired to conduct an investigation. That December, it reported serious problems with oversight of Potter’s programs.

By then, Goodloe-Johnson was well aware of the report’s findings. She met with others in January to discuss the troubled program. Among them was Stephens.

Two days later, Stephens wrote an e-mail indicating Goodloe-Johnson didn’t want the Sutor report revealed to the school board.

“That’s what I found most concerning, because of the nature of the Sutor Group report, the fact that nobody could remember discussing it with the board, talking about the details of how severe those findings were, I thought was troubling,” said Eakes. The following month, Goodloe-Johnson glossed over the Sutor report at a board meeting.

“It obviously was a missed opportunity for the Superintendent to share with us the full gravity of the situation,” said Sundquist.

By the end of 2009, Potter’s program was actually growing with even more questionable spending than before. — (follow link to KING5 for full report)

SIDE NOTE: At that same time — December 2008-January 2009 — Goodloe-Johnson was in the middle of pushing her contentious “Capacity Management Plan” which consisted of multiple school closures, evictions, and splintering the district’s schools for gifted children. The School Board voted in favor of her plan at the end of January. Is is possible she didn’t want any kind of scandal to interfere with these plans? Why else would she cover for Potter?  Or is it possible that his operation, which funneled money to various local organizations, might have helped quash opposition to her controversial closures plan? That is one theory, CORRECTION: and was cited in the REPORT ON INVESTIGATION RELATED TO THE REGIONAL SMALL
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
by local attorney Patricia Eakes as the initial inquiry that prompted the school board to retain Eakes in December 2010 to investigate Potter’s program. Eakes did not find witnesses with firsthand knowledge to support this claim. But she did uncover other troubling aspects of Potter’s dealings and various cases of mismanagement within SPS all the way up to the superintendent. — sp. 2/26/11

Sadly, Pottergate is just the latest in a litany of questionable activities, mismanagement, and even ethics scandals that have happened on Goodloe-Johnson’s watch, including at least one that involved the superintendent directly (see: “Seattle School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s ongoing conflicts of interest”), not to mention a damning state audit of the district last year.

The Seattle Public School District motto is: “Excellence for All. Everyone Achieving. Everyone accountable.” Who should be held accountable for this latest mess?  Clearly the buck needs to stop with Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson.

–Sue  & Dora

SHOULD THE SUPERINTENDENT BE FIRED? CONTACT THE SCHOOL BOARD NOW

The Seattle School Board directors will meet next Tuesday <=[UPDATE: AS SOON AS THIS WEEKEND!, according to the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, which is all over this story] to decide the fate of Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson and how to respond to the Silas Potter fraud scandal.

Parents, teachers and other members of the Seattle Schools community who want to voice their views on whether the Superintendent should be fired or bought out should contact the school board directors now. Here’s how:

District I – Peter Maier peter.maier@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040
District II – Sherry Carr sherry.carr@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040
District III – Harium Martin-Morris harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040
District IV – Michael DeBell michael.debell@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040
District V – Kay Smith-Blum kay.smith-blum@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040
District VI – Steve Sundquist (board president)
steve.sundquist@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040
District VII – Betty Patu betty.patu@seattleschools.org (206) 252-0040

11 comments

  1. You must be logged in to comment.Urban League’s Kelly Charged in school gun caseBy Alex FryerSeattle Times staff reporterThe City Attorney’s Office filed a weapons charge yesterday against the president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, alleging that he brought a firearm onto school grounds.In a written statement to police, James Kelly admitted carrying a handgun when he attended an evening community meeting at Rainier Beach High School on May 29.Under state law, it is a misdemeanor to possess a firearm on school premises. If convicted, Kelly faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Kelly would also lose his concealed-weapons permit for three years.Reached yesterday, Kelly, 47, said he had not seen the charges and would not comment about the case. “I trust the process. I believe in the system,” he said.Herman McKinney, an Urban League board member, said the charges took him by surprise. He said the board neveread moreMarch 15th, 2009 at 01:52 amRelated Posts: questionable leadership urban league of metropolitan seattleEdit ReplyParent 4 months agoIt’s pretty clear at this point that the district needs to be swept clean. Given the magnitude of the misspent money in a time of extreme financial distress for the district, there really is no excuse.Start with the Superintendent and the Don Kennedy and let’s work our way down from there. They need to go.Flag
    Flag

  2. THE RACKETEERING CONSPIRATORS STEALING FROM OUR CHILDREN AGAIN ( EDDY RYE, TONY ORANGE (BOTH FORMER CRIMINAL CAMP “CENTRAL AREA MOTIVATION PROGRAM”) ,CHARLES ROLLANDS (FORMER MAYOR NORM RICE FRONT MAN AND DEPUTY MAYOR UNDER NORM RICE AN FORMER WASHINGTON STAT DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR), SEATTLE URBAN LEAGUE’S JAMES “GUNSLINGER” KELLY ; ARE ALL HITMAN FOR SCHOOL DISTRICT GENERAL COUNCIL RON “OLD BOY NETWORK” ENGLISH DOUBLING AS PROPERTY MANAGER FOR JOHN RICHMAN. THEY ARE ALL PART OF THE RACKETEERING CONSPIRACY AND FINACIAL CORRUPTION INVOLVING URBAN LEAGUE VILLAGE AND FAKE MUSEUM AT THE FORMER COLMAN SCHOOL SITE. STAY TUNED “THE SHIP IS LEAVING THE RATS”. TRUST ME, RON ENGLISH IS “THE GOD FATHER” OF THIS SCHOOL DISTRICT MAFIA CRIME FAMILY!!! Omari Tahrir Founder/Vice President of AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER AT THE FORMER COLMAN SCHOOL SITE.

  3. Not sure what you’re referring to, Raven. This scandal has nothing to do with unions. Just good old-fashioned corruption, fraud and mismanagement — the kind that most often is seen in this nation generated by non-union, corporate upper-management types. Potter was crooked and his bosses let him carry on with his scheme, then tried to hide the details.

    –Sue p.

  4. Wow, this is a great turn of events. It looks like her days are numbered. I wish you a speedy MG-J early departure!

    This blog is a such a testament to parents keeping on top of things.

    But I wonder about which unsuspecting district the Broad Foundation is scheming to plant her next.

  5. I would like to add that there are school board members that need to be held accountable also.

    The ONE employee that they are to manage is the supe and they did not do that one job. I and others in testimony time and time again told the board to PLEASE do their jobs and not just rubber stamp everything that the supe sent their way. The state auditor states in two consecutive reports that there was not adequate oversight by the school board members. The school board was not doing their job. I couldn’t believe how much they swallowed in terms of statistics and census reports that were bogus when they were to make usually hurried decisions as pressed upon by the supe in terms of school closures and all of her strategic plan reforms that were just part of the corporate reform (Broad/Gates) agenda dressed in sheep’s clothing. There are to be checks and balances and no one was minding the store. Not one of those members who sits on the dais today took on their responsibility as they swore to do.

    Those school board members should not dare to run again.

    To imagine that these two con men, Potter and Stephens, were working within the building of the John Standford Center, had set up an office on the premises and were making hand over fist in cash on their little endeavor, a business venture that the supe was aware of! But she knew all she had to do was placate the board with some semblance of information or nothing at all and they would just nod their heads in unison to whatever she said to them.

    I am thoroughly disgusted with the shenanigans that went on within SPS and the board that just let it go by them. It was a shame that the supe had such top down control, which I know she did, of that entire administration and the school board. She was vindictive and she created an atmosphere of fear within the Stanford Center and beyond.

    I say to her “good riddance!” The same to her lackey the CFO Don Kennedy and half of the school board who was supposed to be on watch during her reign of wasteful terror.

    Dora

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