CONTACT: Pavi’Elle Phillips
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF DR. STEVE GALLON III
July 16, 2021
At the School Board Meeting of July 14, 2021, the School Board unanimously approved agenda Item H-10 regarding the adoption of the recommendation of Inspector General. The item was co-sponsored by Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman, Ms. Lucia Baez-Geller, Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Dr. Lubby Navarro, and Ms. Maria Teresa Rojas.
The School Board of Miami-Dade County remains committed to promoting and maintaining a high level of accountability, integrity, and transparency in the operation of the school district and in its role as a fiduciary. It also values its role in promoting, maintaining, and cultivating partnerships with community-based and direct service organizations.
On September 16, 2020, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated a review of the transfer of $1.57 million from K12 Florida, LLC (K12), a virtual instruction provider, to the Foundation for New Education Initiatives, Inc. (FNEI), the District’s direct-support organization. The OIG examined how the donation came about and whether the solicitation of the donation from a vendor pending execution of a contract created violations or prohibited conflicts of interest pursuant to the State’s Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Statutes and School Board Policies.
In its Report released on June 29, 2021, the OIG found no actual violations of the prohibitions as defined by the State’s Code of Ethics and the corresponding School Board policies. Their review, however, found that a solicitation of a donation from a vendor with a contract pending final execution, and an existing contract with a term of years remaining, created, in their opinion, the “appearance of impropriety.” Their Report also issued 5 recommendations, of which only 1 applied to actions to be taken by the School Board— actions that were noted as having already been initiated via School Board action to amend certain policies governing this matter.
The School Board adopted recommendation #2 of the OIG Report IG-20-0008-SI and directed the School Board Attorney to draft a response on behalf of the School Board to be approved and executed by the School Board Chair affirming same; directed the Superintendent to conduct a further review of findings of fact in OIG Report IG-20-0008-SI and in consultation with the School Board Attorney and Interim Chief Auditor, remedy or make recommendations and/or applicable School Board policy amendments addressing any areas, access, and resources including but not limited to the discontinuation of the use of District (non-school site) personnel for solicitation of donations to FNEI from current and prospective vendors, the use of the district’s purchasing card for FNEI related expenses, and the allowance of district personnel that are not an officer of FNEI to serve as a signer on FNEI bank accounts, and other provisions to FNEI that may pose a conflict provided to FNEI that may create an appearance of impropriety regarding the role and responsibility to FNEI as a DSO, in contrast to other DSO’s and/or relevant organizations serving as viable, longstanding district community partners; and directs the Superintendent to provide an update on any said remedies taken and recommendations to be made to the School Board no later than August 13, 2021.
“I applaud the work of the Inspector General and am grateful for the unanimous support of my colleagues. This unanimous action reflects the Board’s continued commitment to transparency, accountability and integrity, and will enable the continued review and improvement of the District’s internal controls, as well as reaffirm the Board’s role as the ultimate fiduciary of Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” said Dr. Gallon.
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