MCOE Superintendent Stacey Adler will pay back $24,500 in stipends
She’s going to give the money back.
Mono County Superintendent of Schools Stacey Adler is going to voluntarily pay back the $24,500 in stipends she has awarded herself since 2012 for work she performed for a San Diego charter school. In a special meeting held on February 23 in Bridgeport, Mono County Board of Education Trustees voted 4-0, with Trustee Sue Bouska absent, to require Adler to pay back her stipend. According to the motion, Adler and the Trustees jointly agreed that the money be paid back to MCOE. The board determined there was “no bad intent” on Adler’s part in issuing the stipends. They concluded that she had not followed procedure; however, there is no current Mono County Office of Education policy or procedure that dictates how stipends should be awarded.
Adler, along with 10 other Mono County Office of Education employees, received stipends for their work for the Urban Corps of San Diego Charter School (see “Stipendintendent,” February 10, 2018) since 2012.
The Mono County Office of Education (MCOE) manages the finances, special education requirements and payroll for the charter
school, and, in turn, charges the charter school for the work its employees do. This means extracurricular work for some MCOE employees, and they were compensated for that work with stipends. The stipends ranged from $200 to $5,000, and totaled $93,530 in payments since 2012.
MCOE has not yet produced a spread sheet or time cards, as requested by The Sheet, documenting how much work has been performed by its employees at the charter school.
The stipends awarded to MCOE employees other than the Superintendent are allowed under California Education Code 1302, and those employees will keep the money they have received so far. The practice of issuing stipends to employees may continue at the discretion of the Superintendent, pending new policies governing those types of payments. Those policies are currently being drafted by the Trustees with assistance from the California Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team.
In 2017, the Mono County District Attorney’s Office investigated MCOE and Adler for alleged misappropriation of funds related to the stipends. District Attorney Tim Kendall announced on February 7 that the investigation concluded that there was no criminal intent by Adler. Kendall also concluded that Adler gave herself a stipend and not a raise in salary, which according to Education Code 1209, would have required Board of Trustee approval.
The Trustees were given information about the stipend payments but took no action, according to the minutes from a December 2012 Trustee meeting. MCOE began managing three charter schools in 2012, but now manages only the Urban Corps Charter School. In “Climbing the Chart(er)s” (February 17, 2018), Adler said that the Trustees knew of and had approved the stipends.
Trustee Greg Jennison said at the February 23, 2018 Board of Trustees meeting that he was unaware of the stipends. He said in a separate interview with The Sheet on February 28 that MCOE has no policy in place that addresses stipends or other bonuses to employees or the Superintendent. Adler didn’t have to tell the Trustees about her stipends because there was no procedure stating she had to and it was not an increase in salary, said Jennison.
A matrix was included in the minutes from the December 2012 meeting that detailed which employees would receive stipends, and what the value of those stipends would be. Adler’s name was not on that list, but was included in a matrix from 2016 which showed she did receive a stipend in 2012. Legally, the inconsistent records provided to the trustees regarding whether she received stipends and when are a moot point, because she didn’t have to tell the Trustees if she got one.
Jennison wanted to reiterate that Adler did nothing wrong and that he wholly believes she did not intend to mislead anyone. Adler and the employees received compensation for the extra work they did for the charter school, he explained. Jennison added he knows Adler is a tireless worker and cares deeply about the kids and the employees of MCOE.