Our reporting relies on your support. Contribute today! 

Help us reach our goal of $250,000. The countdown is on!

Friday, March 31, 2006 | The secrets started at the time former Superintendent Alan Bersin was hired.

In order to avoid having expenses like alcohol, fine dining, and excessive signing bonuses for his minions out of the scrutiny of the School Board and the public, he established the “Superintendents Fund.” The fund amounted to nearly a half a million dollars, over which he had exclusive control.

Some of the expenses were for “outside the salary schedule” signing bonuses for a corporate spin doctor, and cross country weekly trips and expensive Coronado housing for the still infamous Tony Alvarado. The school board had no say in the expenditures, and the money was not in the school budget, so it was out of sight of the media.

Some of the people giving money to the fund insisted on anonymity, and do so to this day. In fact, the San Diego Foundation which was the 501c3 shelter for the fund still refuses to make all the donations public information.

Was there a person buying Bersin’s influence, or was it given with no strings so Bersin could buy influence? To date, no one knows.

Could it be that a publisher was one of the unidentified donors?

There were also questions about the tax exempt fund and if the expenses were reported appropriately and fit the fund description under IRS rules. We hired an attorney with appropriate expertise to engage Mr. Bersin about the expenses. The result was a refusal to provide them, and the claim of a “witch hunt.” Instead, he claims he provided them to a newspaper. I would hope they would release them publicly as well.

The question of whether it should be released before the agencies with jurisdiction see the documents is something that the school board must consider. So far, we have agreed (3-2) to give the documents to the FPPC because of reporting questions, to the IRS because of donor tax exemption questions, 1099 reports for cash bonuses, as well as definitions of “appropriate” educational expenditures.

We also maintain that the entire document should be reviewed by the State Attorney General for California Code violations if any. Once the document is in their hands, I personally want to move on to the proper education of San Diego children which is what I was elected to do.

John de Beck is a member of the Board of Education for San Diego City Schools.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.