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In the story about José Betancourt’s decision to plead guilty to violating federal conflict-of-interest law for his work for a defense contractor, I asked the San Diego Unified School District why the chief administrative officer never reported the work on his annual statements of economic interest.

The forms are required by a state law known as the Political Reform Act of 1974.

A spokeswoman for the district said the school system would research the matter. But there is evidence that the district was asked whether Betancourt had disclosed his defense work months before the current controversy.

On May 1, lawyer for Bill Dos Santos, the district’s former maintenance chief who was laid off as part of Betancourt’s reorganization of the maintenance department, asked the district for Betancourt’s statements of economic interest. Dos Santos is working on a wrongful termination suit against the district and is no fan of Betancourt.

A month later, on June 7, an outside lawyer for the district replied, summarizing the original request in this way:

Mr. Dos Santos Request No. 6

A copy of all Jose Betancourt’s annual Conflict of Interest Disclosure forms and specifically does he make mention of his employment by Access Systems, Inc. The Accela Group, or his relationship with The Portolan Group.

Access Systems and Accela Group are the government contractors for which Betancourt has done some work while employed at the district. Betancourt made no mention of either on his statements of economic interest. The Portolan Group is the consultant that led the maintenance department reorganization.

The letter below, from the district’s lawyer, was sent not only to Dos Santos’ attorney but also to Jodi Smith, the chief of staff for Superintendent Carl Cohn, and Ted Buckley, the district’s general counsel. It was mailed in early June.

The May 1 request from Dos Santos’ lawyer also asked the district for: “All records internal and external pertaining to editing/writing of the Portolan Group’s ‘San Diego Unified School District Maintenance and Operations Review — Overview of Division Reorganization Plan.’”

As I reported this week, the president of the Portolan Group said that Betancourt personally edited the drafts of the report, of which he said there were four.

But the district’s lawyers said the district did not have any drafts. In fact, they said there were no records of the editing at all:

The district’s communications director, Ursula Kroemer, was not available this morning to explain when the district’s research into Betancourt’s statements of economic interest started or why it did not provide the drafts of the Portolan Group report to Dos Santos lawyer. When she calls back, I’ll post the district’s response.


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