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With a forensic audit of their former management consultant behind them, members of Commerce City's Adams 14 School District board and staff said it's time for the state to leave the district alone. …
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With a forensic audit of their former management consultant behind them, members of Commerce City's Adams 14 School District board and staff said it's time for the state to leave the district alone.
“We are hoping the State Board of Education will leave Adams 14 alone and let Adams 14 do its job,” Joseph Salazar, the lawyer for the district said at the Feb. 17 press conference.
Salazar said the board members understand that the state will continue to monitor the district.
“When I say the state board should just leave this district alone, this school board and its leadership might have a significant mess to clean up,” Salazar said..”They might have to take a look at how MGT has run this district, where the holes are in the dam and how to plug up those holes. This is a significant amount of work this district is going to have to do.”
District officials hosted the press conference in their offices to release the results of their forensic audit of MGT Consulting LLC. The consulting group was brought in to manage the district in Nov. 2018 after years of poor test scores and low graduation rates. The district's board voted to end their relationship with MGT in January, with the company stepping away from the district earlier in February.
The audit showed the management group had required the district to pay more than $495,000 in fees to eight vendors. Board president Romona Lewis said the functions those vendors performed duplicated jobs the MGT Consulting group had been hired to do.
“This was a scope of work that MGT was required to perform according to the agreement between MGT and Adams 14,” she said..”Adams 14 paid fees to these eight vendors for $495,486.18.”
Lewis said the district provided the audit to the District Attorney. That office has declined to move forward with any kind of criminal investigation, she said.
“Based on the information they have, there is not enough evidence to move forward with criminal charges,” Lewis said..”The DA's office left open the possibility of contacting them in the future should further evidence reveal additional concerns.”
But the results of the audit are why the Adams 14 district terminated their working agreement with MGT Consulting.
“The Adams 14 board still has a public trust obligation to insure that MGT acts and conduct were in line with the external management agreement,” Lewis said..”We will broaden our investigation to all contracts engaged in by MGT during the two-and-a-half years they managed the district. Meanwhile, Superintendent Loría and the board will continue with our work to turn this district around.”
Superintendent Karla Loría said those fees represent $495,000 in taxpayer money that should have been spent on students.
“This is not, in my opinion as an educator, about the money,” she said..”It is about what we can get with that money for our students, and our students did not receive anything. We are not engaging with our administrators, our schools, our staff, our teachers, the labor to really move forward and ensure our students will get the best education we can.”
With the management group gone, Loria and the Adams 14 board are solely in charge of the district until a new management group is hired.
“Until the next (State Board of Education) hearing — and we don't know when that next hearing will be — this district will operate like any other school district in Colorado.”
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