School District Exonerated from Unsupported Lawsuit

Posted by: Jennifer Landry 3 years, 8 months ago

School District Exonerated from Unsupported Lawsuit

Message from CUSD Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey P. Felix:

Yesterday, Judge Styn of the San Diego Superior Court ruled in favor of our District by approving a summary judgment that fully dismisses an individual’s allegations that challenge District accounting practices and record-keeping procedures.  For the past 10 months, our District has endured Ms. Uremovic’s harsh disparagement and challenge regarding fiscal management practices in what seemed to be a community member’s effort to create widespread question of our District’s fiscal integrity, and yesterday the Judge ordered this to stop.

Beginning last June, she asked questions regarding accounting practices and asked for all financial records for the District’s General Fund.  Specifically, she wanted bank statements reflecting every financial transaction processed for the District.  It appeared that, in making this request, Ms. Uremovic was incorrectly assuming that the District follows the same accounting practices that might apply to a private sector business or a household.  However, public education entities are legally required to process their funds in a much different way.  Out of respect, we tried to explain that California’s public school districts account for their funding and expenditures in a much different way, and therefore the remaining documents Ms. Uremovic sought did not exist.  Try as we might, she could not comprehend that public school districts are legally required to follow strictly prescribed steps for their accounting practices.

Her lack of understanding and her lack of trust led her to repeatedly contact the District for additional public records.  In observance of the law and in the interest of transparency, we devoted well over 100 hours of staff time to produce all existing, responsive documents for this community member.  Chief Business Officer Dr. Butler and his staff worked tirelessly to be sure all requested documents were gathered and delivered.  Dr. Butler wanted to help her realize her misunderstanding.  His patience is a reflection of our commitment to be open and accessible to the school community.  Ultimately, despite the District’s diligent efforts to satisfy Ms. Uremovic’s request, she filed an action in San Diego Superior Court. 

This cycle of questions and answers concluded yesterday when the Judge granted the District’s motion for summary judgment, fully dismissing her allegations and legal action.

I share this message with you because we all know that trust is one of the most essential ingredients in a healthy and successful school environment.  Public schools belong to the public. They are funded with taxpayer dollars, and therefore it stands to reason that we must make all fiscal information readily available to the public.  Sadly in this situation, access, availability, facts and patience could not yield understanding, so we are particularly relieved by the Court’s decision. 

We should all thank Dr. Butler and his staff for the great work they did over the past 10 months to attend to this issue. He never lost sight of the simple fact that his efforts were an investment in community confidence in our schools.

Additional Information:

Superintendent considering asking for sanctions on frivolous claims.

Judge Styn of the San Diego Superior Court ruled in favor of Coronado Unified School District Tuesday by approving a summary judgment that fully dismisses an individual's allegations that challenge District accounting practices and record-keeping procedures.  For the past 10 months, the District has endured Ms. Uremovic's harsh disparagement and challenge regarding fiscal management practices in what seemed to be a professional litigant's effort to create widespread question of the District's fiscal integrity.  Judge Styn ordered this to stop.

"I want to be very clear- I think the judge's ruling proves this was a frivolous claim," Dr. Felix vehemently stated.  "It was a waste of taxpayer money. Ms. Uremovic and her local cronies should be ashamed of themselves. The judge saw this claim had zero percent chance of having any legal significance in a court of law."

Beginning last June, she asked questions regarding accounting practices and asked for all financial records for the District's General Fund.  Specifically, she wanted bank statements reflecting every financial transaction processed for the District.  In making this request, Ms. Uremovic was incorrectly assuming that the District follows the same accounting practices that might apply to a private sector business or a household.  However, public education entities are legally required to process their funds in a much different way.  The District respectfully tried to explain that California's public school districts account for their funding and expenditures in a much different way, and therefore the remaining documents Ms. Uremovic sought did not exist.  Unfortunately she could not comprehend that public school districts are legally required to follow strictly prescribed steps for their accounting practices.

"The claimant asked for something that did not exist," said Dr. Felix.  "School districts don't have personal or individual checkbooks or checking accounts. We are a $30M state agency with hundreds of millions in assets. We use the practice of fund accounting as mandated by law. Our policies are strict, with multiple forms of transparent accountability. It is absurd to suggest otherwise."

Ms. Uremovic's lack of understanding and her lack of trust led her to repeatedly contact the District for additional public records.  In observance of the law and in the interest of transparency, the District devoted well over 100 hours of staff time to produce all existing, responsive documents.  Chief Business Officer Dr. Butler and his staff worked tirelessly to be sure all requested documents were gathered and delivered.  Dr. Butler desired to help her realize her misunderstanding.  His patience is a reflection of the District's commitment to be open and accessible to the school community.  Ultimately, despite the District's diligent efforts to satisfy Ms. Uremovic's request, she filed an action in San Diego Superior Court. 

 

This cycle of questions and answers concluded Tuesday when the Judge granted the District's motion for summary judgment, fully dismissing her allegations and legal action. The summary judgment avoided the time and expense of a trial since the Judge concluded there was zero percent chance the claimant would be successful in court. 

 I share this message with you because we all know that trust is one of the most essential ingredients in a healthy and successful school environment.  Public schools belong to the public. They are funded with taxpayer dollars, and therefore it stands to reason that we must make all fiscal information readily available to the public.  Sadly in this situation, access, availability, facts, and patience could not yield understanding, so we are particularly relieved by the Court's decision.  The judge has completely exonerated the District from any culpability on these contrived claims.  I personally thank Dr. Butler and his staff for the great work they did over the past 10 months to attend to this issue.  he never lost sight of the simple fact that his efforts were an investment in the community's confidence in our schools.