GPS Fraud, Waste & Abuse Report #3: The $100,000+ Ghost Employee

Dr. Robyn Conrad-Hansen, GPS ghost employeeThe administration of Gilbert Public Schools flagrantly violates public policy, federal law, state laws and its own district policies as a few six-figure income public employees *live large* at taxpayer expense. Today’s Fraud, Waste & Abuse report is about a ghost employee at the highest level of GPS management for 2015-2016, Dr. Robyn Conrad-Hansen. In addition to her salary, which appears to be a Gift of Public Funds prohibited by the Arizona Constitution, Robyn Conrad-Hansen’s travels were extensive and expensive. Today’s report is just the tip of an iceberg that Westie will reveal in upcoming FW&A reports. Man the lifeboats!

Christina Kishimoto’s generosity seems to have no limits when it comes to matters of her inner circle at the GPS White Castle. For instance, in her Board Report dated April 3, 2015, Christina Kishimoto reported that Robyn Conrad-Hansen was leaving her position as principal of Playa del Rey Elementary School and would be on leave: “Dr. Robyn Conrad, is on Smart Schools, and will be on leave to serve as President of the national Principals Association [sic].” It appears Christina Kishimoto’s statement was never true. Instead, Robyn Conrad-Hansen was continuously employed by GPS as a Smart Schools Plus contractor, while another person was hired for her former position as a school principal at Playa del Rey.

Christina Kishimoto undeniably reported to the Governing Board that Conrad-Hansen was on leave as president of NAESP, but it turned out that *someone* created a position for Conrad-Hansen at the GPS district offices. It appears that the Governing Board did not approve this position, yet Conrad-Hansen collected a handsome paycheck for whatever it was that she did as a ghost employee in a position that did not exist, according to GPS organizational charts. This was an abuse of Christina Kishimoto’s authority, a conflict of interest, a violation of the Arizona Constitution, and an abomination against public policy. Whew!

Christina Kishimoto once urged the governing board to *suspend* district policy when it suited her plans; this time, it appears Christina Kishimoto brazenly violated district policies on her own volition. The employee GPS employee handbook for 2014-2015 was in effect for the 2015-2016 school year, which included this policy for administrators who serve in state or national offices, appearing on page 34:

If an administrator is elected to a state or national office or an office in a professional education association, the employee may be granted an unpaid leave for the term of said office. Employees may apply for additional leaves if reelected or elected to an additional office. Administrators returning from such leave shall return to their same or equivalent position as determined by the District.

It appears Kishimoto willfully and knowingly took action to hire Robyn Conrad-Hansen for a term of employment and at a compensation Kishimoto was not authorized to approve,  usurping the board’s authority to determine the pay of employees under A.R.S. § 15-502A. This appears to have been done with the intent to benefit Robyn Conrad-Hansen, the recipient of an illegitimate contract, and it appears that Christina Kishimoto did so knowingly and dishonestly for a wrongful purpose. This scheme could succeed only with collusion and collaboration of other top-level administrators in GPS … the Chief Talent Officer and the Chief Financial Officer immediately come to mind, but others also are implicated.

Robyn Conrad-Hansen moved to a position identified as “District” and “District/NAESP” in various Voucher Reports. GPS paid expenses of membership in the national organization of which Robyn Conrad-Hansen was president. That alone violates A.R.S. 15-342(8) Discretionary powers: “Annually budget and expend funds for membership in an association of school districts within this state.” In Vouchers 5254-5285, June 2015, Robyn Conrad-Hansen was paid $8,123.94 as principal of Playa del Rey and membership dues for Arizona School Administrators and National Association of Elementary School Principals were paid in the amount of $530.00.

In the February 2016 Voucher Report, there is this entry: “Robin Hansen (Conrad) – District – NAESP  $7,370.00.” It’s a slick trick, but GPS employs many means to defeat public records inquiries, such as using different names for one and the same employee. Robyn Conrad-Hansen, and her many alternative names, was paid for the 2015-2016 school year as a Smart Schools Plus contractor. Don’t forget that Smart Schools Plus was paid a nifty fee to put retired former GPS employees back on the Gravy Train.

As a favored GPS employee, Conrad-Hansen traveled in and out of state, always without board approval as required by Arizona statute. For 2015-2016, the NAESP annual conference was held in Long Beach, California shortly before Arizona School Administrators met in Tucson; Conrad-Hansen’s ASA membership and conference attendance were paid by GPS. The two organizations, NAESP and ASA, appear to have a close relationship; the ASA website congratulates Conrad-Hansen for her presidency of NAESP. Robyn Conrad-Hansen was reimbursed $1,628.95, as shown on Vouchers 5254-5285, June 2015: $216.85 for “Reimbursement ASA Conference Tucson” and $1,412.10 for “Reimbursement of flights, meals, parking.”

It appears there was some co-mingling of Robyn Conrad-Hansen’s expenses for the conferences in Long Beach and Tucson, which perhaps could have totaled $1,412.10, but airfare from Phoenix to Tucson would not.  Robyn Conrad-Hansen’s reimbursement is particularly glaring when compared to reimbursements to Christina Kishimoto ($247.42 Vouchers 5254-5285, June 2015) and Steve Smith ($264.14 for mileage, meals and hotel, Vouchers for July-August 2015). Other GPS employees who attended the Tucson conference were reimbursed amounts similar to what Kishimoto and Smith received, except for Campo Verde principal Mike De La Torre, who was reimbursed $957.17 for “Per diem travel expenses for ASA.”

Another reimbursement to Robyn Conrad in the amount of $3,219.00 looks strange, as shown on the 2015 Consolidated Vouchers that GPS provided to Westie: “And rental van for the Teach to Lead* ($150); Reimbursement ASA Conference Tucson, AZ* ($217); Reimbursement of flights, meals, parking* ($2,852).” There’s an annotation in the same spreadsheet showing a $516.00 reimbursement to Robyn Conrad for “ASA Fall Principals” and a $23.00 reimbursement for “travel expenses.”

Notice that Robyn Conrad-Hansen was reimbursed for her travels; like her pal Christina Kishimoto, she made her travel arrangements herself rather than use the GPS vendor, Sinclair Travel. Hmmmm. Whenever the double-MBA GPS board clerk looks at GPS vouchers, remember that matching expenditures to the exact vouchers approved by the board at a monthly business meeting will be necessary, even though the *consolidated vouchers* so readily produced by GPS sycophants might seem to be easier to review. A real auditor knows that, BTW. A real auditor will triple-scrutinize travel arrangements that were made personally, bypassing the district’s vendor. There’s a reason GPS has left the Internal Auditor position vacant for so long… starting back when former Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield did not like the Internal Auditor’s advice about the infamous contract he signed with CrossPointe. Sheeeeesh.

None of this GPS employee travel was approved by the board as required by A.R.S 15-342(5); see Fraud, Waste & Abuse Report #1 and Fraud, Waste & Abuse Report #2.

The Fine Print: Westie’s Fraud, Waste & Abuse Reports chronicle deliberate misuse of authority and public funds, abuse of authority, gifts of public funds and intentional violations of Arizona statutes and administrative rules by Gilbert Public Schools top-level administrators at the behest of superintendent Christina Kishimoto. These  reports come directly from public records, many of which GPS slow-walked and stonewalled in attempts to keep perfidies hidden. Everything in the FW&A Reports has already been reported to state and federal elected officials and enforcement agencies.

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