Did Salt Lake School District Nix the Gang Intervention Program?

breaktheViolence

 

 

TEXT OF LETTER TO SUPERINTENDENT:

25 August 2016

DELIVERED VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL & USPS

Ms. Alexa Cunningham, Superintendent
℅ Salt Lake City School District
440 East 100 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111-1891


Re: DISTRICT FINANCES GANG PREVENTION EXPENDITURES

Dear Dr. Cunningham,

Acting under the authority of my elected office, and in my official capacity as a member of the Salt Lake City Board of Education, I submit the following request on behalf of the residents of Salt Lake City, District 2. [1]

Pursuant to Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA), [2] I am requesting a copy of all records (a book, letter, document, paper, map, plan, photograph, film, card, tape, recording, electronic data, electronic mail or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics) in reference to or regarding the following:

  1. Gang Prevention expenditures by school and District for the period of July 1, 2015 to the present.
  2. Title I expenditures by school and district for the period of July 1, 2015 to the present.
  3. Expenditures for At-Risk Students by school and District for the period of July 1, 2015 to the present.
  4. The disbursement of the funds that the District receives from Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency
  5. Copies of all conflict of interest declarations submitted by current and former District employees
  6. Additionally, I am renewing my request for an organizational chart of the District administration.
    1. As I indicated in that August 2nd Board meeting, I am particularly interested in where the newly created positions of Family Outreach Specialist will fit into the organization and not compete or duplicate the services provided by other positions in the District i.e. Family /School Collaboration Director, Community Learning Center Coordinator, Title I Director, Community Education Specialist etc…

i.      Please provide me the names of employees in these positions and who they report to;

ii.       Please provide me job descriptions for these job titles

iii.      I am also interested to know under which Chief on the Associate Superintendent level in the current administration they fall under.

GANG ACTIVITY
On August 23, 2016
– A 16 year old was shot by two others in front of the Dual Immersion Academy, Charter School in my neighborhood. It is my understanding that neither the victim nor suspects attended that school. The location of this shooting was within three blocks of Parkview Elementary and Mountainview Elementary. [3]

On August 24, 2016 – Two other Juveniles were held hostage, pistol whipped and gasoline poured on them in Salt Lake City’s westside.[4]  While the police are reporting the suspects are from California, both victims and suspects are known by our students within our school District.

BACKGROUND
On July 2, 2016- I sent you an email renewing my request for information on the finances of the District. I in part stated the following:

“I am also wanting to see a copy of the Gang Prevention application that submitted to the Sate Office of Education. I am being told that Colors of Success is being eliminated from the District. If that is true, then I submit that this District is placing the community in danger if we are eliminating this type of gang prevention program” [5]

On July 29, 2016 – I received a copy of the Gang Prevention and Intervention proposal submitted to the State Office of Education by Business Administrator Janet Roberts and Chief Operations Officers, Larry Madden. [6]

The proposal confirmed what I was being told, that Administrator Roberts and Chief Madden did indeed eliminate Colors of Success as the District’s gang intervention program. From a procurement standpoint, [7] can you please advise me what process Administrator Roberts and Chief Madden followed in order to utilize the services of a teacher from East High and her program, Technique for Tough Times in place of Color of Success? My records indicate that Colors of Success is the District’s designated “Sole Provider[8] for Gang Prevention programs within the District. [9]

Moreover, In a May 6, 2014, Board of Education meeting, we were discussing the School Improvement Plans and Dr. Laurie Lacey (Title I Director) stated that Techniques for Tough Times (Social Studies elective) is “not a gang intervention program”. [10] How does Administrator Roberts and Chief Madden justify their actions on this matter? The grant application also states that Administrator Roberts and Chief Madden entered into an agreement with the Salt Lake Area Gang Project for gang intervention services. I find it curious that prior to the June 7, 2016, Board meeting starting, I asked Administrator Roberts what was the District spending $20,000.00 on Salt Lake Area Gang Project, when Colors of Success is our gang intervention program. [11]

Administrator Roberts claimed to not know and then asked Chief Madden who said he did not know. After the meeting, Chief Madden showed me a text message he received from the Student Services Director stating that she is the one that expended the funds. I then asked him:

“For what purpose was the funding used”?

Chief Madden said that he did not know and that he would get back to me. He never did.

When I finally received a copy of the grant application, I discovered that the Roberts and Madden hired five advocates that work for the Salt Lake Area Gang Project. I find it curious that both Roberts and Madden denied any knowledge of the Salt Lake Area Gang Project, yet these two were the ones that signed off on the grant application. Furthermore, in the assurances of the grant application, these two affirm that the application was authorized by the Salt Lake City Board of Education. They also state that the decision to abandon Colors of Success and hire Technique for Tough Times and the Salt Lake Area Gang Project was agreed to by the District’s Gang Prevention and Intervention Advisory Council. They also references statistical data that appears to be missing.

Accordingly, please provide me copies of the following:

  1. Copy of the list showing the membership of the District’s Gang Prevention and Intervention Advisory Council
  2. Copy of the agenda and minutes to the meetings convened by the advisory council
  3. Copy of agenda or minutes to a meeting where the Board of Education authorized the District to submit this application to USOE
  4. Copy of the RFP Process and contract associated with  Technique for Tough Times program
  5. Copy of the RFP Process and contract associated with the Salt Lake Area Gang Project
  6. Copy of Appendix A & B referenced in the application but not included

Roberts and Madden state that the District hired five advocates from the Salt Lake Area Gang Project to work on gang intervention with five schools: West High, Glendale, Northwest, Meadowlark and Jackson Elementary. When I called those schools and asked to speak to the advocate assigned to the school, the person on the phone had no idea what I was talking about. Where are the advocates? Where is the money?

Furthermore, you will recall that during this past budget cycle, in public board meetings and in private meetings with you, I alerted you to the fact that it appeared that members of the administration were stripping the District of its current gang prevention / intervention program. In those same meetings I also requested information on the expenditures of the District for Title I and Gang Prevention expenditures.

On July 31, 2016 – I sent you correspondence that you acknowledged receiving, yet have not responded to my requests in the letter. I here renew one of them

In light of the fact that I have received multiple reports of administrators utilizing District resources in order to generate income for their private sector business, I would request copies of all “conflict of interest” declared by employees of the District as required by state statute: “An employee shall declare a potential conflict of interest…”[12]

On August 3, 2016 – I did receive scant information (four pages) on Title I expenditures. [13]  However, it is not to the level of detail that I require in order to make decisions on the finances of the District. To that end I am renewing the request under GRAMA.

Accordingly, GRAMA encourages agencies to fulfill a records request without charge.[14] Based on Utah Code §63g -2-203 (4a), I am requesting a waiver of copy costs because releasing the records primarily benefits the public rather than a person: 

“In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the state, its agencies and political subdivisions, exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly” [15]

Furthermore, my “legal rights are directly implicated by the information in the record” [16] as I am an elected member of the Board of Education. [17] Consequently, I recognize that you will respond to my request within 5 business days, as permitted by GRAMA. [18]

I have sent a courtesy copy of this letter to the Mayor and members of her staff as I believe that we need to work in partnership with City to address the gang issue in our community. I have sent a courtesy copy to the State Auditor as yet another example of where District employees are acting on behalf of the Board in violation of state statutes and Board policy. I have sent a courtesy copy to my state Senator and the Senate President as they are in the process of reviewing a local elected official’s ability to obtain information from the very agency over which that elected official has governing authority.

Shalom,

 

J. Michael Clára
Board Member, District 2

cc:
Senator Niederhauser, President
Senator Escamilla, Minority Assistant Whip
Utah State Auditor John Dougall
Mayor Biskupski, Salt Lake City


[1] Utah Code §53A-3-401(5)

[2] Utah Code §63g-2-204

[3] Juvenile In Serious Condition After SLC Shooting – Salt Lake Tribune 08/23/16

[4] SLC Police: Two Teens Kidnapped, Tied Up with Weed Eater Wire –KUTV NEWS 08/24/16

[5] Michael Clára email to Dr. Cunningham – Board Budget Meetings 07/12/16 –In that same email I requested information cited on page 1 of this request

[6] GRANT APPLICATION: Gang Prevention and Intervention 2016-2017 Proposal to USOE

[7] Board Policy F-2

[8] Utah Code §63G-6A-802

[9] Notice of Proposed Sole Source Procurement – Request # 000958 (see attached)

[10] Diverting Gang Prevention- Intervention Funds?  – Michael Clára YouTube Channel   https://youtu.be/xrGQJeTGyh0

[11] Salt Lake School District –Purchase Report 05/03/16

[12] Utah Administrative Code  R477-9-3 Conflict of Interest

[13] Dr. Cunningham Weekly Report to the Board

[14] Utah Code §63g-2-203(4)

[15] Utah code §52-4-101

[16] Utah Code §63g -2-203 (4c)

[17] Utah Code §53A-3-402

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