dallas isd

Audits Raise Questions About Dallas ISD Construction Oversight

A candidate for Dallas ISD Board of Trustees voices concerns

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A candidate for the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees is sounding the alarm over a pair or audits that say district employees helped contractors get around rules and charge taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they should have.

At a summer jobs program press conference Monday, Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he could not recall details of the audits, but he said that policy changes were in the works for school board approval in response to the findings.

“There are certain procurement requirements that need to be tighter,” Hinojosa said. “We have policies that are on the agenda, that have been considered the past two months. We have high expectations that they will be passed this month, so we’ll have tighter controls over some things that probably should have been done better.”

The audits were performed by the district’s auditor over roof repair work at Gooch Elementary School in North Dallas and Dunbar Learning Center in South Dallas.

The Gooch audit was for a 2016 repair to hail damage that occurred in 2012. The audit found more than $200,000 in excess payments for the work, and that the job was split in pieces to avoid school board review of contracts over $500,000.

The Dunbar audit said the district may have paid more than $120,000 over the amount the job should have cost and district officials helped the contractor avoid bidding rules.

Other audits are still in the works.

“It totals over $600,000, that to my knowledge has not been returned to the school district. So, that doesn’t tell me that there’s not a process in place because they haven’t recouped the money,” DISD Board of Trustees candidate Nancy Rodriquez said.

She said the construction oversight was an extra concern at this point in time because the district was considering a new construction bond referendum.

“These are taxpayer dollars. We’re getting ready to ask for the largest bond in the history of Texas. This needs to be addressed before they can ask the taxpayers for a new bond, especially a bond of this scale,” Rodriguez said.

Her opponent is incumbent Dustin Marshall who serves on the school board audit committee.

“I disagree with her assertions,” Marshall said.

He said the district already addressed many of the issues by changing procedures, that federal law enforcement has been contacted and involved employees are no longer with the Dallas ISD.

Asked about whether any money has been recovered, district spokesperson Robyn Harris responded with a text message: “Dallas ISD is exploring all options.”

The issues will be part of a Dallas ISD Trustees Audit Committee meeting Tuesday.

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