"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, March 23, 2007

Captain Waldo Burford Ready to Sink, er, Save the Charter Ship

More on the "submarine" audit of the wonderful charter ship of Waldo Burford:

. . . . The audit found that Gorman Learning Center officials misreported how many full-time teachers they employ and how much of the budget is spent in the classroom, resulting in $7.7 million in overbilling to the state.

Auditors found that the school lacked proper accounting controls, faulted the board for a lack of oversight and said Executive Director Waldo Burford paid his daughter and son-in-law $32,637 for 21 hours of work evaluating student writing.

However, some parents and students Thursday called Burford a visionary and the Gorman center a lifesaver, especially for students at the Pomona campus.

Others said that as district officials enjoyed luxuries, students lacked instructional materials.

"I am absolutely shocked by this finding. These people hid it very well. They hid it from the whole school," said Mosher, of Yucaipa, who said she has three children in the district.

Parents called on Burford and Human Resources Director Sondra Green to step down. The audit found the school paid $18,000 in rent for an apartment for Green from 2002 through 2004.

Burford called the audit a "submarine attack" by discontented staffers and characterized it as an attack on homeschooling.

"I'm ready to do the fight and ready to defend homeschooling again as the captain of your ship," he told parents.

Los Angeles County schools officials hired MGT of America Inc. in July to investigate allegations first made in October 2005 to the California Department of Education, said Kenneth Shelton, assistant superintendent of business services.

Shelton said the audit has been forwarded to district attorneys in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

"The audit findings show that public trust has been badly abused by officials running the Gorman Learning Center," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said in a statement.

State officials will seek repayment from the Gorman center, O'Connell said.

As some parents and students cried while speaking to the board Thursday, parent Pamela Duvall, of San Dimas, worried that Gorman would have to close its doors.

The school offers a good educational program and gives parents many choices of classes, Duvall said.

Still, Duvall said a cleanup at the school's administrative offices is needed.

"If you have three agencies and (Burford's) only defense is that they're doing it to attack homeschooling -- I'm sorry, but he needs to answer the claims," she said.

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