Higley USD acknowledges the ‘wrongdoing’ of the old administration

The Higley USD Board of Trustees agreed on December 8 to recognize the “misdeeds” of the former district governments related to the HUSD college building agreements. (Screenshot from YouTube)

The Higley USD board of directors approved a December 8 consent judgment with the Arizona attorney general’s office over activities surrounding the construction of the two colleges in the district.

Under the judgment, the district agrees to acknowledge the wrongdoing of its former administration from May 2012 to April 2016, according to an emailed statement from the district.

The Auditor General’s office released a report this summer outlining the financial activities that resulted in criminal charges against former Superintendent Denise Birdwell, her attorney, and two district contractors involved in the Sossaman and Cooley college lease.

All district staff involved in transactions are no longer associated with the district.

Nonetheless, according to the ruling, the district will organize additional audit and procurement training for employees to resolve the issue, according to the district.

His email also stated that the district was proactively working with its attorneys and the attorney general’s office “to acknowledge and conclude with the findings discussed in the auditor general’s report.”

Auditor General’s office report alleged Birdwell conspired with contractors to circumvent school district procurement rules and gave educational facility development departments an unfair advantage over other vendors to win a development contract of $ 2.56 million for colleges in 2012.

Birdwell has been charged with 18 counts and the two employees of a district provider, Gary Aller and Steven Nielsen of Educational Facilities Development Services, were charged with three counts each.

The charges included conspiracy, procurement fraud, fraudulent schemes, misuse of public funds, false returns and conflicts of interest.

Additionally, Birdwell attorney Kay Hartwell Hunnicutt, who the report said has a personal and financial relationship with Birdwell, has been charged with three counts of false deposits.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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