While the students of the Poway Unified School District were enjoying their summer break, internal conflict was brewing among the district’s administration.
Late last April, PUSD’s superintendent John Collins was placed on administrative leave while an internal audit, a formal investigation of accounts and finances, requested by Poway Unified’s Board of Education, took place.
However, his leave of absence didn’t last long, as he was fired from his position as superintendent on July 10. Collins has been accused of filing restraining orders without approval, altering district rules for personal gain, violating district policies, and collecting more than $345,000 in unauthorized pay.
According to The San Diego Union Tribune, the audit also states that Collins was awarded an unearned $132,000 in ‘longevity pay’ and $77,241 in salary raises tied to nonexistent satisfactory performance evaluations.
There is no information in the audit that provides an explanation as to how such financial irregularities went unnoticed.
Excerpts from the official statement issued by Lynne Lasry, Collins’ attorney defended Collins and challenged the audit.
It is unfortunate and troubling that the Board of PUSD, in terminating Dr. Collins’ contract with the District, has released an alleged independent audit that is replete with errors, both legal and substantive, including privacy violations of Dr. Collins and others (even in the “redacted” form). It is, however, expressly noted in the first paragraph of the released audit that it “does not express an opinion regarding the existence of fraud.”
Without going into detail about the legal and factual errors in the audit and other issues with the Board, the audit clearly ignores evidence that supports Dr. Collins, and includes questionable presentations of summaries which rely on unseen documents and/or mischaracterizations of many circumstances and events.
Lasry’s statement not only defends Collins’ actions but questions the accuracy of the audit as well as challenging the investigation’s integrity by stating that authorities are ignoring supporting evidence.
Associate superintendent of learning, Mel Robertson, continued to lead the district until August 1 when board-voted Edward Velasquez assumed the position of interim superintendent.
The San Diego Union Tribune also stated that Poway school board President Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff and her colleagues are planning to strengthen the district’s fiscal practices due to this scandal.