Silas Potter's alleged criminal enterprise
Posted by Lynne Varner
News of felony theft charges against former Seattle Public Schools manager, Silas Potter, and two non-district cohorts for allegedly running a $250,000 contracting scheme provides relief to anyone who doubted resolve by the Seattle School Board and law enforcement to resolve a humiliating scandal in the district's small-business program.
Those who want heads to roll won't be satisfied by the three offered by King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. But it appears this criminal enterprise was of Potter's making and managing. The county's top attorney repeatedly responded to questions in Tuesday's news conference that there was no evidence of culpability on the part of former superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. School Board member Michael DeBell said that finding echoed the results of an investigation months ago by Patricia Eakes.
Interestingly, the charges come a day after Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag released 18 pages of findings on another district matter, the 2010 sale of the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary to a local church.
Sonntag said there were no violations were found against Seattle Public Schools or the Seattle School Board. Full copy of the report here.
With scant evidence to the contrary - or a basic understanding of the law - there will still be calls to jail Goodloe-Johnson, oust the entire School Board and/or vote against the Seattle Families & Education levy.
The gossip, innuendos and established scandals in the district have provided critics with their raison d'etre for years. This is the air they breath. But everyone else: press for tighter controls and accounting systems. This district has endured financial improprieties and outright theft under a variety of superintendents & school boards. Don't think ousting this board gets you anything but new faces.
Time to turn away from the gossip of personalities and concentrate on the lack of rules and internal checks and balances that can prevent the next Silas Potter. The former superintendent wasn't fired because of direct wrongdoing, but rather for tolerating - or inviting -pick your verb, a corrupt system. She's gone, the system remains.
The current board has implemented some new controls which I wrote about here.. But a murky and bureaucratic organization needs more daylighting.
No matter who serves on the board next, they will need a district with better internal controls or they'll find themselves in a position similar to this board. Time spent bemoaning personalities is better spent asking if the controls in place are enough to catch the next Silas Potter.
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