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California State Auditor Report Number: 2015-101

Inglewood Unified School District
The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Needs to Better Communicate His Approach for Reforming the District

Responses to the Audit

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California Department of Education
California State Auditor's Comment on the Response From the California Department of Education
Response from Inglewood Unified School District


October 20, 2015

Elaine M. Howle, State Auditor
California State Auditor
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95814


“Inglewood Unified School District: The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Needs to Better Communicate His Approach for Reforming the District,” Report No. 2015-101, November 2015

The California Department of Education (Education) appreciates the opportunity to provide the following written comments and proposed corrective actions to the recommendations outlined in the California State Auditor’s (CSA) Audit Report No. 2015-101, titled: “Inglewood Unified School District: The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Needs to Better Communicate His Approach for Reforming the District.”

Recommendation No. 1:

To assist the district with establishing priorities, and to ensure that the public is aware of those priorities, the state superintendent should direct his state administrator to develop annual performance objectives and an action plan to address FCMAT’s findings and recommendations. Such an action plan should describe for the public why certain findings were prioritized and what steps the state administrator plans to take to improve the district’s FCMAT scores.

Education’s Comments and Corrective Actions

The Inglewood Unified School District (district) implemented corrective actions in response to many of FCMAT’s recommendations, while simultaneously implementing statewide changes such as computerized state-testing. However, with nearly 700 FCMAT recommendations in the latest comprehensive review, Education concurs that a state administrator plan delineating action priorities would be beneficial to the district, Education, and the public. Education will work with the state administrator to determine the form, content, and timeframe for developing an action plan.

Recommendation No. 2:

To provide the public an opportunity to fully understand the requirements for and the progress made towards restoring the power of the district’s school board, the state superintendent should direct his administrator to do the following:

• Establish a web page on the district’s web site listing the specific exit criteria, indicating which criteria have been satisfied, and what the state administrator and state superintendent’s expectations and plans are for satisfying remaining exit requirements.

One way the state superintendent could do this would be to provide regularly updated information in the format that is similar to the information we present in the Appendix of this audit report.

Education’s Comments and Corrective Actions

Education will work with the state administrator to determine the content and timeframe for developing this Web site.

• Establish regular board agenda items to answer the public’s questions concerning the efforts made towards achieving the exit criteria.

Education’s Comments and Corrective Actions

Education concurs that the public should have opportunities to discuss the district’s progress. Therefore, in addition to the time the public is afforded to comment at every regular board meeting, Education will explore options with the state administrator to periodically establish agenda items on this topic.

Overall Comments

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is committed to ensuring that the students of the district are given the opportunities and high-quality instruction that they deserve. As the education system in California is based on local control, it is Education’s intent to prepare the district for a return to local governance and to keep the community informed of this process along the way. To provide clearer context and perspective, Education has the following comments.

Education appreciates the auditors’ recognition of the important work that the district has done, such as: (1) special education program improvements; (2) adopting a balanced budget for the first time in many years that has been reviewed for reasonableness, and approved by the county office of education in accordance with the state board adopted criteria and standards; and (3) improved relationships between district staff and the advisory board. Education is hopeful that the district is gaining momentum as it has shown progress, relative to the prior year, in every operational area.

In regard to the auditors’ statement that the district has yet to demonstrate significant improvement in its finances, and the narrative related to cumulative deficit spending, Education provides the following information. Prior to the state superintendent assuming control of the district, FCMAT projected that the district would have a cumulative deficit of over $72 million for the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 school years, which was in part the basis of sizing the loan at $55 million. However, as a result of the district’s progress, the cumulative deficit over the same period was only $18.6 million and only $29.1 million of the state loan was drawn down.

To further provide context and perspective on the district’s fiscal improvements, it is important to point out, as Figure 3 in the audit report shows, that almost $12 million, nearly two-thirds of this three year cumulative deficit, is attributable to the 2012–13 school year— the absolute low-water year in terms of school funding during the financial crisis and the year in which the state superintendent assumed powers. It is also important to point out the costs that have been imposed on the district since the 2012–13 school year, which contributed to the $18.6 million cumulative deficit. These include: (1) $1.8 million in annual state loan payments; (2) the elimination of certain flexibility afforded to districts during the financial crisis, such as the ability for the district to reduce the school year by five to seven days; and (3) new laws which include requirements to decrease Kindergarten through Grade 3 class sizes, to increase and improve services, and to meet certain spending levels in adult education.


Education is pleased with the auditors’ acknowledgment of the thorough process Education has taken to ensure the appointment of a qualified state administrator. This process included sending an announcement to every district and county superintendent in the state, soliciting local stakeholder input, having executive-level staff and the state superintendent conduct interviews, performing reference checks, and discussing the candidates with the county office of education. The auditors reported that Education did not have a document that explains why it advanced or selected one candidate over another; however, Education believes that disclosing such information is unusual and not required for high-level appointments. Education looks forward to working with the new state administrator to advance the district in this next phase of state control.

If you have any questions regarding Education’s comments or corrective actions, please contact Peter Foggiato, Director, School Fiscal Services Division, by e-mail at, or by phone at 916-322-3024.


Michelle Zumot
Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction



To provide clarity and perspective, we are commenting on the California Department of Education’s (Education) response to our audit. The number below corresponds to the number we have placed in the margin of Education’s response.


Education misses the point of our audit report’s critique regarding limited documentation regarding the appointment process. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee specifically asked that we assess the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (state superintendent) role in appointing the Inglewood Unified School District’s (district) various state administrators. In our Audit Results, we state that the lack of documentation—though not required—prevented us from fully evaluating and understanding why the state superintendent appointed particular individuals. Our legislative recommendation was aimed at improving the transparency and accountability over the state superintendent’s appointment process when other financially distressed school districts subsequently fall under his control.


October 19, 2015

Elaine M. Howle
California State Auditor
621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Ms. Howle:

The Inglewood Unified School District appreciates the opportunity to respond to the California State Audit Report No. 2015-101.

The mission of the Inglewood Unified School District is to ensure that all our students are taught rigorous standards based curriculum supported by highly qualified staff in an exemplary educational system characteri7.ed by high student achievement, social development, safe schools and effective pa1tnerships with all segments of the community.

We believe the report's recommendation to the state superintendent of public instmction can help us achieve our goals and stand ready to implement them as directed by the state superintendent.


Vincent Matthews
State Administrator

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