By Steven Tavares.
Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas received a contract for unidentified services with the city’s school district worth nearly $9,000 last year, and the school district has no idea how it was approved or what job he performed.
Salinas was given a “professional expert” contract for roughly three months of work from March 2015 to June 2015, according to public records. Salinas turned in time cards with work totaling 149.5 hours, billable at $60 an hour, for a grand total of $8,970.
However, Hayward school officials say the contract was never approved by the school board, said Board President Lisa Brunner. “There is no record of what he was supposed to do,” Brunner said of Salinas’ contract.
Brunner said the school board had no idea so-called professional expert contracts were being used by the district until last Spring after an investigation was launched over the existence of two Made in Hayward Foundations. She believes Salinas’ contract was moved forward by now-fired Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs. “I don’t believe these types of contracts should be given out and I understand this was done under the direction of Dobbs,” said Brunner
School Trustee Luis Reynoso said the board requires any contract worth more than $5,000 to be submitted for approval and, in this case, its procedures were not recognized. “This is another example to the board of how the superintendent was not providing good financial stewardship of the student’s money,” said Reynoso.
Just last week, during a Hayward City Council meeting, Reynoso charged that some Hayward councilmembers had personally profited from ties to the school district. A majority of the City Council is backing a political group hoping to replace three incumbent school board members this November, including Reynoso.
“Some of you or all of you are making money off the district,” Reynoso said Sept. 20. “We don’t need your services. Please don’t make money off our children. Now I can see why you support our superintendent.”
Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, however, strongly admonished Reynoso for his allegation, saying “We were just accused of many things that we as a council have not done,” said Halliday. “I am not going to sit here and be accused falsely and have my councilmembers accused falsely of doing something that we have not done.”
In an interview last week, Salinas declined to answer any questions about the work he performed for the contract. “You guys are just fishing for something,” said Salinas.
The use of professional expert contracts came under scrutiny recently in the school district’s report on Dobbs, who was fired earlier this month. A similar type of contract was used to give former Hayward Councilmember Olden Henson a contract of up to $40,000 to create a non-profit group named the “Made in Hayward Foundation.” The school district’s investigation into Dobbs found the contract was surreptitiously placed on the board’s agenda in 2014 under the guise of Henson being a “substitute teacher.” However, Henson was never paid for his work and retained ownership of the original non-profit’s paperwork.
The premise behind professional expert contracts is they sidestep the normal and transparent bidding process under the notion the type of services needed require specific expertise not available within the existing staff. When Brunner was asked whether she believes the type of administrative knowledge required of Henson and Salinas was absent among the school district’s staff, she answered unequivocally, “No.”
It is not clear how Salinas’ contract was initially approved, but each of the three time sheets submitted were approved by the school district’s business department. Over the course of the contract, Salinas almost exclusively billed the school district for two hours during the work week between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. On some days, Salinas billed an additional two hours in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Salinas is also a teacher at Chabot College and Cal State East Bay, in addition, to working for the Hayward Promise Neighborhood, a federally-funded program to help students in the city’s impoverished Jackson Triangle neighborhood.