News Column

Board discusses audit of San Carlos superintendent's $1.3 million home loan in closed session

February 4, 2014

By Bonnie Eslinger, Palo Alto Daily News, Calif.

Feb. 04 -- The San Carlos School Board last week was scheduled to review an independent audit of a $1.3 million home loan it approved for Superintendent Craig Baker , but the public would have had a hard time figuring that out. That's because the agenda item for the closed-session matter stated: "Public Employee Performance Evaluation (Government Code section 54957) Title: Superintendent." On Thursday morning, school board President Adam Rak told The Daily News that the item was worded as a performance evaluation at the recommendation of the San Mateo County Counsel's Office, which handles the school district's legal needs. The next day, Rak said he couldn't disclose what was said during the closed session because no action was taken. "I would add that it is my view that the public should get to review an accurate and complete report once it is finished," he wrote in an email. Lead Deputy County Counsel Kathryn Meola , who represents the district, was unavailable to answer questions about the agenda item's wording. In December, she said it would be up to the school board to decide whether to disclose any or all of the information that comes out of the home-loan audit. The school board sought the audit in October following public calls for an explanation of how the district provided the loan a day before the board approved it. The board last summer agreed during a closed-session performance review to loan Baker up to $1.3 million for up to one year so he could sell his house in Redwood City and buy one in San Carlos . After that session, then-board president Beth Hunkapiller wrote a letter dated July 12 telling prospective house sellers that the board intended to approve the loan at a future meeting. After Baker bought his new home in San Carlos , a Sept. 13 closing date was moved up and the district wired the money on Sept. 11 -- one day before the board voted in open session to approve the loan. Baker also received a 3 percent raise from the board after his 2013 performance review that brought his salary to $171,667 and gave him a $20,000 one-time bonus. Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com ; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger . ___ (c)2014 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) Visit the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) at www.paloaltodailynews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Palo Alto Daily News (CA)


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