Bribery, racism allegations create outrage during CUSD Personnel Commission meeting
COMPTON—More controversy surrounded the Compton Unified School District Personnel Commission on Thursday, July 19, as the group learned about bribery and racism allegations between employees and commissioners.
Arguments, allegations and controversy marred the five-hour meeting.
The controversy began when CUSD employee Damon Williams asked the commissioners to overrule his plant manager III test disqualification.
“I have been the acting plant manager at Compton High School for the last 14 months,” he said. “After 32 years with the CUSD, I thought I could take the test and move up when there is a vacancy.”
Spencer said Williams does not meet the po- sition qualifications.
“This position requires two-years of supervisory experience,” he said. “Mr. Williams accumulated 18 months. The commission rule says an applicant for plant manager III must meet all of the position qualifications, and he only meets some of them.”
Commissioner Florence Adams-Vickers sought out clarification on supervisory work, even if it was not a designated 106 assignment.
“The time served must be documented,” Spencer said. “There is no proof otherwise, and the staff cannot deviate from the rules.”
Williams filled in for his supervisor on an undocumented basis for 15 years, Adams-Vickers said, and that should add an extra year to his experience level.
The plant manager I and II positions have less stringent requirements, Spencer said, and he qualifies for both positions.
“I did not pass either exam, but I have questions about that,” Williams said. “The test scores are like a kid’s report card. I failed the math, but when all the categories get totaled I have a 2.0 grade point average.”
Commissioner Tara Bonner said she could not green-light the plant manager III test for Williams because he failed the other tests.
“If he passed the other two I would feel better about letting it happen,” she said.
The grading system proposed by Williams does not apply, Spencer said, and the total score is the only determining factor.
“Allowing the test for Williams is the commissioner’s decision,” he said.
Bonner said the testing department committed no errors during the process.
“They followed the proper protocols and adhered to the standards,” she said. “They should not worry about their actions.”
Williams received permission to take the test from Adams-Vickers and Commissioner Janice Irving, which frustrated Intermediate Personnel Clerk Lina Barraza.
“The commission keeps violating its own rules and regulations,” she said. “This is unfair and very embarrassing.”
Food Service Director Tracie Thomas had a Nutrition Services Operations Manager position tabled by the commissioners during the meeting, Barraza said, because one candidate said no one notified him.
“That is a lie,” she said. “The computer network administrator went into the employee’s inbox, and the invitation was there.”
The issue boils down to honesty, Barraza said, and people in the district take advantage of work relationships.
“We try to do a good job,” she said. “This makes our department look bad, and it damages our reputation.”
Barraza interrupted herself, and Bonner encouraged her to keep talking.
“This is the only way the district will ever get to the bottom of the problem,” she said.
Spencer told her that talking did not put her at risk, and she told the commissioners the system was corrupt.
“Somebody came to the testing office on behalf of Mr. Williams,” she said. “He offered us money if we passed him.”
Williams said he had nothing to do with that action.
The meeting digressed to an argument led by Bonner who, said Irving is part of the problem.
“The commissioners censured you in less than six-months, and you became part of fraud and corruption,” she said. “Employees got jobs illegally, and you rewarded the person who hired them. You are part of the corruption from the rooter to the tooter.”
Bonner called Irving a disgrace to the commission.
“The board should have never appointed you,” she said. “I said it, and it is on the record.”
Intermediate Personnel Clerk Nina Garcia told said the bribe was offered to her.
“It was a CUSD employee,” she said. “He never said he was Williams’s friend or co-worker, he just offered the money on his behalf. The guy treated it like standard procedure. ”
Barraza notified Spencer about the incident.
“I was not there, but I thought Dr. Spencer should know.”
Spencer learned of the activity on Monday, July 16, and began investigating the matter.
“I perform the initial investigation,” he said. “After the issue unfolds, the attorney will offer advice as needed.”
Positive change within the commission can happen, Bonner said, and Spencer leads the way.
“He does that every day, in my opinion,” she said. “I support him, and we cannot violate the educational code rules, and make decisions based upon emotions.”
Spencer faced animosity starting on his first day, Bonner said, and the scrutiny remains baseless.
“Commissioners and other people said something about Spencer being white,” she said. “His color does not matter. People come here with good hearts and see issues and problems. We are dysfunctional.”
CUSD employees called the event embarrassing, while questioning whether the commissioners should continue service in their capacity.
“The group must resolve their personal issues between each other,” a CUSD employee said. “If this cannot be resolved everyone should resign.”
Bonner apologized for her outburst during the meeting.
The next CUSD personnel commission is on Thursday, Aug. 2.