I wanted to take this opportunity to respond to Dennis Persica’s recent editorial piece and provide the public with the actual facts regarding the relationship between the Recovery School District and the New Orleans inspector general.
The New Orleans Inspector general was hired by the Recovery School District and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to prevent and detect fraud being perpetrated by the contractors working on the New Orleans’ School Facilities Master Plan.
However, in their time working for the Recovery School District and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the New Orleans inspector general focused largely on work outside of the scope of our negotiated contractual agreement. In fact, their work was so similar to the work being performed by the Louisiana legislative auditor, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and the Recovery School District itself that it was at risk of not being reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars dedicated to this contract.
Given these issues, we felt that the termination of this agreement was the most fiscally prudent decision we could make. The Louisiana Department of Education and the Recovery School District take our responsibility as stewards of taxpayer dollars seriously.
Despite the termination of the Louisiana Department of Education contract with the New Orleans inspector general, I am confident that there will be no gaps in the oversight of the School Facilities Master Plan.
The Louisiana legislative auditors have been regularly reviewing and auditing the rebuilding plan at the request of the state Legislature for some time and has agreed to expand its scope to more closely and frequently monitor the contractors hired to rebuild schools in New Orleans, which we welcome. Additionally, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness have agreed to provide fraud awareness training to all relevant employees.
The Recovery School District, the Louisiana legislative auditors and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness officials continue to work together to ensure that taxpayer funds dedicated to the rebuilding of the city’s’ public schools continue to benefit the children of New Orleans.
Patrick Dobard, superintendent
Recovery School District