During the June 6, 2019, special study session of the SUSD Governing Board, Board Member Sandy Kravetz articulated for maintaining the status quo of her tenure by thwarting attempts at instilling accountability that were coupled with her desire to eliminate public comment at meetings.
Dr. John Kriekard and President Patty Beckman suggested the restoration of public comment to the time period immediately after the superintendent’s report and allow public comment opportunities on agenda items before each is voted on.
In response, Kravetz said: “Well the other thing I would like to remind us, is that we are not (a) one bound, to have public comment.”
Kravetz’ response reflects her desire for ruling without dissent and is in keeping with the prior board’s activities of threatening and suing constituents who came forward with commentary not flattering to their stewardship of the district.
Even more startling was Kravetz’ response to board member Jann-Michael Greenburg’s suggestion that the district follow its own written policy of having an internal auditor.
“We’ve had auditors before, internal auditors, and correct me if I’m wrong, um, and, you know, if somebody wants to hide something, it’s unfortunately gonna get hidden,” she said.
Kravetz also stated that dollars spent on an internal auditor would be dollars that could not be spent in the classroom.
While noble in sentiment, Kravetz’ reasoning rings hollow in the face of the enormous amount of money that she allowed to be siphoned from those same classrooms by the Birdwell regime she recruited and unleashed on our community.
Perhaps an internal auditor back then would have brought to the board’s attention that they were about to hire a superintendent who had been mired in controversy while she was employed at Higley Unified School District.
Perhaps an internal auditor would have spotted that Louis Hartwell was not only the superintendent’s de-facto brother-in-law, but was a part-time warehouse manager at Higley. An auditor might have found it odd that Hartwell would suddenly be elevated to the position of district COO, in charge of disbursing hundreds of millions of dollars of bond funds.
Perhaps an internal auditor would have spotted that Laura Smith, SUSD’s CFO, was writing checks to a company she owned. This might have saved the District the embarrassment of having their CFO indicted.
Perhaps an internal auditor would have discovered that SUSD administrators were participating in a bid-rigging scheme and saved the Attorney General the time of having to sue SUSD for participating in bid-rigging.
Perhaps an internal auditor would now question why SUSD is paying board member Barbara Perleberg’s legal fees for a lawsuit Perleberg filed as a private individual without board approval.
Perhaps the auditor might ask why Michelle Marshall, the general counsel for the district, is currently having her employment performance review for her contract renewal conducted by Jennifer MacLennan, an attorney with Gust Rosenfeld.
MacLennan was recently hired by Marshall to negotiate the roofing contract and solar panel contract for Coronado High School. An auditor might point out that having a vendor to whom business had been awarded conduct an employment review of the person who awarded the contract would appear to be a conflict of interest.
It is clear that Kravetz’ desire for being able to govern by fiat, without any checks and balances that could be provided by an internal auditor will make her life easier.
It will perpetuate the myth that she is blameless for the enormous mistakes she made during her tenure while leaving the district subject to a complete lack of accountability.
Mark Greenburg is a resident of Scottsdale and father of SUSD Board member Jann-Michael Greenburg.