TUSD seeks to fill opening on volunteer committee

2014-08-22T12:00:00Z TUSD seeks to fill opening on volunteer committeeAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Tucson Unified School District is seeking a volunteer to fill a vacancy on the Governing Board Audit Committee.

Committee members assist in assuring that the TUSD Governing Board adequately complies with its fiduciary oversight obligations, helps strengthen TUSD’s internal financial controls and helps provide greater transparency of the district’s stewardship of tax dollars.

A seat on the five-member board opened up following the resignation of the committee chair, Robert O’Toole, earlier this month.

O’Toole, who worked for TUSD for 10 years before retiring in 2000, cited comments made by Superintendent H.T. Sanchez as his reason for stepping down.

“At the June 24th Governing Board meeting, Superintendent Sanchez made slanderous remarks about me,” O’Toole wrote to the Governing Board. “In the many years that I have been associated with TUSD, I have never known a superintendent to publicly attack a volunteer, a previous employee or current employee of the district, or a member of the public.

“Public discourse in TUSD has reached a new low,” he continued.

The comments O’Toole referred to came during an update on the district’s implementation of a new software system that is expected to eliminate TUSD's paper-driven systems in human resources, payroll and benefits.

The audit committee as a whole has long been concerned about the process to select the software system as this is the second one the district has purchased over the last five years — the first of which cost $10 million but was abandoned by the district for various reasons.

“We were curious to see that the district had done rigorous validating of what they selected but we were not given a chance to do that,” O’Toole said. “We were concerned about the implementation because that software is the heart of the internal control processes for TUSD.”

During the June meeting, Board Member Mark Stegeman asked Sanchez whether there would be any review of the implementation process by the board's audit or technology committees to which Sanchez responded: “I really don’t want to throw anyone under the proverbial bus, but part of the issue we faced with PeopleSoft was born from our current chair of the audit committee.

“I just want to be very cautious in making sure that we’re not asking folks who have led us to our current impasse to be a sounding board on what should be good practice to get past our current impasse.”

O’Toole, who has never had a one-on-one conversation with Sanchez, called the comments untrue and offensive.

While he did work for the district as executive manager of fiscal and operational support when the PeopleSoft system was purchased in the late 1990s, it was primarily to address concerns about the districts ability to provide payroll in the year 2000. The software worked in that capacity, O’Toole said. By the time he left TUSD, the software was not fully implemented.

“I thought it was rather ridiculous to blame someone who hadn’t worked for the district for 14 years for something that is a current problem,” O’Toole said.

O’Toole hopes he has been able to help the district have better internal controls, improved audit findings and building public trust in the system, he said.

Applications will be accepted for the position until it is filled.

For more information on the committee and to apply, go to http://www.tusd1.org/contents/govboard/audit.html

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@tucson.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea​

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

Ed Notes includes stories and related items from all Tucson-area school districts written by Arizona Daily Star reporter Alexis Huicochea.

Have an education-related topic you would like to see on the blog or suggestions? Email Alexis Huicochea at alexis@tucson.com

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