“I felt bad collecting my salary while being forced to sit home without doing the work.”
Last December, David Binkle’s paid suspension was announced with typical LAUSD double speak. At the same time the press office was stating that he had “been temporarily reassigned pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into a CONFIDENTIAL personnel matter,” (emphasis mine) a leaked copy of the Inspector General’s draft audit stated that they “found that the program is currently at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused.” While the district initially stated that the investigation was likely to “wrap up in late spring or early summer,” last month they stated “they could not estimate when the investigation might be concluded.” In the meantime, Binkle was being paid his $152,000 salary not to work, a situation that was unfair to both Binkle and the taxpayers.
Like the many teachers who have been forced to quit after getting stuck in the purgatory of Teacher Jail, Binkle has filed his paperwork to retire. While this provides him with a way to move forward from the experience, he also pays the price of having an unresolved cloud over his name. Unfortunately for the stakeholders of the district, Binkle’s retirement may also give the district an opportunity to leave the investigation unfinished and the resulting unanswered questions will create a situation where the status quo will be allowed to continue.
If the Inspector General is correct in the assessment that there was mismanagement of the division, it is unclear why the buck stops with Binkle. It is not unreasonable to expect that senior district officials should know what is going on in the departments that they supervise. In fact, Binkle has stated that his actions “were approved by senior officials including [former Chief Operating Officer Enrique] Boull’t and Michelle King, chief deputy superintendent.” Of course, this is the same district where Ron Chandler was forced to resign for his role in the “premature” launch of the MiSiS system while his boss, Chief Strategist Matt Hill, continued with his job until failing upward by becoming Superintendent of the Burbank School District. Apparently, this is how accountability works in the LAUSD. Only continued pressure to bring the investigation to its full conclusion can prevent this same outcome in the Food Services investigation scandal.