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SEC ends probe of West County district’s bond program; issues no sanctions

RICHMOND — The Securities and Exchange Commission has concluded its investigation of the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s bond program without any sanctions, the agency announced.
“Based on the information we have as of this date, we do not recommend any enforcement action by the Commission,” SEC Regional Director Monique Winkler said in a July 12 letter to the school district’s outside counsel, Jason Gonzalez of Nixon Peabody LLP’s Los Angeles office.
The notice of conclusion, however, “must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result from the staff’s investigation,” Winkler added, citing standard SEC procedure pertaining to such notices.
West County schools Superintendent Matthew Duffy hailed the end of the investigation as “welcome news” in a statement Friday.
“The district has proactively looked into the matter and made significant changes to improve the processes and procedures of the bond program,” Duffy said in a news release. “Now, it is time for community members and staff to turn their focus to improving the teaching and learning taking place in our classrooms.”
The SEC began its investigation in July 2014 in the wake of accusations of mismanagement in the district’s $1.6 billion school bond program. The agency requested documents relating to general obligation bonds issued by the school district and to proposed refunding of the district’s debt, according to the news release.
Once the SEC began its inquiry, the school district commissioned a $1 million forensic accounting investigation  to look into the accusations, resulting in 112 recommendations, more than half of which have been implemented, the news release added. An implementation plan update is available here .
“It is my hope that with the conclusion of the SEC investigation and the implementation of the forensic audit recommendations, we are beginning to regain the trust of the community in our ability to responsibly and effectively manage the school construction and bond program,” Duffy said.
Check back for updates.

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