Scottsdale Schools settlement agreement with AG’s office materializes

The Governing Board hosted its July 26 meeting at the Mohave District Annex. (file photo)

The Scottsdale Unified School District appears to be working out a settlement with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for its procurement violations connected to the Hohokam Elementary and Cheyenne Traditional schools bond projects.

In February, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a civil lawsuit in the Maricopa County Superior Court naming SUSD, Hunt & Caraway Architects and then-Hunt & Caraway Principal Brian Robichaux and ordering an immediate halt to the construction of the two school rebuilds in question.

Gust Rosenfeld Attorney Susan Segal says no settlement has been reached at this point, but outlined three components to be comprised within the agreement: training, hiring an accounting firm to do procurement examinations and a monetary component.

On Thursday, July 26, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board held a special meeting and met in executive session to discuss the settlement. The meeting was held at the Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Road.

“We have no settlement at this point, we have made significant progress and we are on the verge of reducing this all to writing,” Ms. Segal said to the Governing Board. “We will proceed to try and finalize these negotiations.”

During the same meeting, the Governing Board approved a one-year contract with Clifton Larson Allen to conduct an examination of procurement in the district. The contract will be from July 1, to June 30, 2019, with the intention that an examination will be conducted for at least three years, district officials said during the meeting.

Scottsdale Unified School District General Counsel, Michelle Marshall, says the firm will look at four categories of procurement:

  • All major construction projects entered in to during that period of over $1 million;
  • Procurements of architects or engineers during that period;
  • All other procurements greater than $100,000 that are not subject to testing by SUSD’s current auditor, Heinfeld Meech; and
  • Any purchases in excess of $100,000 through any cooperative agreements.

Clifton Larson Allen Principal, Dennis Osuch, says their examination will lay out procedures that the district and attorneys will agree to.

“It lays out the exact procedures that we’re going to perform,” Mr. Osuch said.

“We are going to design procedures that basically address the uniform system of financial records, as well as the Arizona administrative rules that apply to procurement.”

Mr. Osuch says an agreed upon procedures report will go the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, while areas for improvement and suggestions from Clifton Larson Allen will be kept with the district.

The Governing Board voted 5-0 to approve the contract with Clifton Larson Allen, and voted 5-0 to direct legal counsel to proceed as directed in executive session.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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