What actions can a CBOC take toinform the public of potentially improper uses of school construction bond funds?
What actions can a CBOC, or an individual CBOC member, take to
inform stakeholders and the general public of potentially improper
uses of school construction bond (SCB) funds or other
questionable activities if the standard CBOC actions and
reports do not produce the desired acceptable outcome?
By definition and statute (California Education Code §§15278-88), the entire function of a Prop. 39 School Construction Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee is to perform oversight – and, if something unusual or improper is noted, take action on its findings.
By statute, the CBOC must report its findings to the district’s public that it has been established to oversee. These can be done through the CBOC’s annual (or more frequent) reports or individual actions, such as reports and recommendations to the governing board, the agency’s administrative departments, stakeholders, and the general public. The CBOC leadership may meet individually with governing board members, the superintendent, or other senior administrators.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the objectionable actions, the CBOC (and individual member(s) thereof) has many possibilities for further actions, including:
- Include a discussion of the issue in the annual (or more frequent) report of the CBOC to the public.
- Consider a resolution, or special report, to the governing board discussing the issues.
- Consider a resolution of no confidence against the district, the board, the superintendent, or other officers or departments.
- Consider initiating an action to recall members of the governing board.
- Contact the local district attorney (for actions that could rise to criminal activity.)
- Contact the civil grand jury (for improprieties that could include poor procedures and potential instances of fraud, waste, or misuse of funds that may or may not rise to criminal action.)
- For matters involving the potential misuse of Federal funds, contact the Federal grantor agency, the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal grantor, or the U.S. Attorney. Most Federal funding for K-12 and community college districts comes through the U.S. Department of Education and is used primarily for operations, but other Federal departments fund K-12 and community college capital projects, including e-rate funding through the Federal Communications Commission that is used for information technology capital projects that may be co-funded with bond monies.
- Contact the County Superintendent of Education, County School Board, and other county-level oversight agencies as appropriate for the jurisdiction.
- Contact the California Board of Education, the State Superintendent of Schools, and the California Department of Education (these three are closely connected.)
- Contact the California State Controller.
- Contact the California Joint Committee on Legislative Audit and the California State Auditor. Other than the specific functions of the State Auditor established by statute, the Auditor undertakes audit work at the instruction of the Joint Committee. If a particular audit is desired, the party advocating such work is generally best served by contacting its State Senator or Assemblyperson, who can submit a request to the Joint Committee.
- If appropriate, contact the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Under certain situations, misuse of bond funds could potentially endanger the tax-exempt status of the bonds, which could attract the interest of one or both agencies.
- Contact bond rating agencies.
- Contact CABOC for assistance.
- Consider a legal action under California Education Code §15284 (“… an action to obtain an order restraining and preventing any expenditure of funds received by a school district or community college district through the sale of bonds authorized by …” Proposition 39.)
- Consider a CBOC resolution and prepare a ballot argument against a subsequent ballot measure due to perceived, serious uncorrected problems with prior bond measures, management and control deficiencies, and other issues.
- Consider other legal actions.
- Hold a press conference to announce the CBOC’s findings, recommendations, and actions, such as referring the matter to the agencies above.
Before taking any of the above actions, the CBOC and individual members should consider the potential impacts of such actions on the future relationship between the CBOC and the entity it oversees.