The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

September 26, 2010
Some school agencies balk at CSBA fees

Three California School Boards Association members are showing their displeasure with the embattled nonprofit by withholding a total of $65,800 in fees, and a handful of others are joining in.

However, it appears most school districts and county offices of education are deciding to stick with CSBA, which has been engrossed in a financial scandal involving Scott Plotkin, the association's now-retired executive director.

CSBA spokeswoman Susan Swigart said of the 965 members for 2009-10, the association anticipates less than 2 percent will not renew their membership.

Some cited concerns over executive pay at CSBA. Plotkin announced in July he would retire after it was revealed he was paid $516,517 in 2008 and $403,955 in 2009 after receiving sizable bonuses and other compensation.

Plotkin also admitted using CSBA's credit cards to withdraw cash at casinos. He said he repaid that money.

The 32 members of the CSBA board of directors approved Plotkin's salary and bonuses, as well as a $43,000 severance payment.

The Sacramento County Board of Education debated at length Tuesday whether to withhold dues of $12,535. The board opted to pay its dues and send a letter of concern to CSBA.

Sacramento County schools chief Dave Gordon said he has some concerns about districts not utilizing CSBA, which he said provides valuable resources to districts such as training.

"Their staff has been of high quality in my experience, " Gordon said.

Three districts opting to withhold fees include:

Sacramento City Unified -- Will remain in CSBA this year only if the nonprofit's executive board retires and if the district's $36,161 dues are reduced by 50 percent.

Swigart said, "It is unlikely the school board's requests will be granted."

Santa Clara County Board of Education -- Will delay payment of $12,693 until trustees review findings from an independent audit ordered by CSBA.

Capistrano Unified School District -- It dropped out, citing the scandal.

-- Melody Gutierrez

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Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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