10-20-2019  7:11 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit Opens at Portland Art Museum

One of the most important conceptual artists of our time, his works examine the representation of race and the politics of visual culture

NEWS BRIEFS

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

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Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

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The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

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Protesters Rally in Ashland to Demand 'Impeach Trump Now'

Activists are rallying in Ashland Sunday Oct, 13 to demand impeachment proceedings ...

Seattle's first Opportunity Zone development breaks ground

SEATTLE (AP) — The Opportunity Zones program was marketed as a way to help poor communities by offering major capital-gains tax breaks for investors to park their cash in 8,000 designated low-income census tracts.Instead, critics have labelled it a "tax scam," ''the latest example of urban...

Prosecutors: Trade war opens doors For Mexican drug cartels

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal law enforcement officials in Oregon say they've uncovered an elaborate scheme to convert Mexican drug profits from sales in the United States back into pesos using Chinese citizens who seek to circumvent their country's banking laws.The Mexican drug cartels are...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

No. 22 Missouri heads to Vandy, 1st road trip since opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Missouri coach Barry Odom knows only too well the dangers of going on the road and how a few mistakes can prove very costly.While some of his players my not remember that stunning loss at Wyoming to open this season, Odom hasn't forgotten."We're going to treat it just...

OPINION

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

New Emmett Till marker dedicated to replace vandalized sign

GLENDORA, Miss. (AP) — A new bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was dedicated Saturday in Mississippi after previous historical markers were repeatedly vandalized.The brutal slaying of the 14-year-old black teenager helped spur the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.The...

Parents sue Virginia school district over racist 2017 video

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — The parents of a Virginia student who say their son was assaulted and bullied by his middle school football teammates in an incident captured on video two years ago are suing the school system.The video, which showed football players simulating sex acts on black students...

Team abandons FA Cup qualifier after racial abuse

LONDON (AP) — An FA Cup qualifier between Haringey Borough and Yeovil was abandoned Saturday when the home team walked off the field after one of its players was racially abused.Haringey, a London-based non-league club, walked off in the 64th minute after claims its Cameroonian goalkeeper...

ENTERTAINMENT

Adam Lambert: Happy to see more LGBTQ artists find success

NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Lambert, who rose on the music scene as the runner-up on "America Idol" in 2009, says he's happy to see more mainstream LGBTQ artists find major success."I think it's less taboo to be queer in the music industry now because there's so many cases you can point to like,...

Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda says she's returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters arrested Friday...

Naomi Wolf and publisher part ways amid delay of new book

NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Wolf and her U.S. publisher have split up amid a dispute over her latest book, "Outrages."Wolf and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced separately Friday that they had "mutually and amicably agreed to part company" and that Houghton would not be releasing "Outrages."...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Where you die can affect your chance of being an organ donor

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Roland Henry had died in a different part of the country, his organs might have been...

Impeachment inquiry puts spotlight on Perry, who shunned it

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long after more flamboyant colleagues flamed out of President Donald Trump's favor amid...

Analysis: Confronted by impeachment, Trump adds to the chaos

WASHINGTON (AP) — The impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump has thrust Washington into a...

Italian experts defuse WWII bomb in northern city

MILAN (AP) — Italian authorities have evacuated 4,000 people from the center of the northern city of...

Bolivians pick between Evo Morales and change in tight vote

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — South America's longest-serving leader was seeking an unprecedented fourth term in...

15 dead after Russian dam collapse floods dormitories

MOSCOW (AP) — At least 15 people are dead after a dam at a small Siberian gold mine collapsed and water...

McMenamins
Lisa Loving and Brian Stimson of The Skanner News

Jefferson High School Principal Cynthia Harris and school business manager Reis Wilbanks were put on paid leave from their jobs Thursday, May 20, and a Portland Public Schools spokesman says he can't comment on why.
However the district also on May 20 received a critical audit on the school's student activity funds that has prompted a complete review of all the school's finances, spokesman Matt Shelby said this morning.
"I can't link Cynthia's leave with this financial audit," he said. "I can't do that."

 

Cynthia Harris at the 2009 Jefferson High School Junior/Senior Prom, which was sponsored by CH2M


Shelby said student finance audits are done every year for every school in the district. He said enough shortcomings were found in Jefferson's audit that officials decided on the wider examination. It was the only school in the district that triggered a further investigation, Shelby said.
On March 3, The Skanner News reporter Brian Stimson was ejected by Harris from a parent meeting concerning use of funds for school athletics. District officials said at the time that open meetings laws did not apply to that sort of gathering.
"In all honesty, for people who have followed this, I don't think this comes as much of a surprise that we're doing this review," Shelby said Friday morning.
Deputy Superintendent Toni Hunter, the former principal of Grant High School, has been put in charge of Jefferson in the meantime.


History of Mismanagement


Issues concerning Harris' management have bubbled up since 2008, the year Jefferson's much-vaunted "small academy" organizational structure imploded and Mayor Tom Potter held "listening sessions" for students, families and teachers at the school to help propel reforms.
Jefferson students approached The Skanner News with allegations of financial improprieties in late 2008. The students, including then-junior Sydney Breazile, said that teens who complained about the school's management were offered gifts and shopping trips by Reis.
"She offerd to take the 3 of us girls out for pedicures and a shopping trip to nordstrom," Breazile texted Friday morning in a message to The Skanner News from her current post with the U.S. Navy, on the USS Roosevelt, based in Norfolk, Va. "The lady in charge of alumni association took over pheobes job and did not raise money for prom through out the year. There was nothing for us seniors to do."
"There has not been clarity about who owns decisions," said a special report on the state of Jefferson conducted in 2008 by then-district charter school director Cliff Brush.
"This contributed to a lack of clarity about management relationships between the principal and academy administrators. District supports have not been provided systematically. As a result, there has not been clarity for the school's principal and academy administrators about their discretionary authorities and about which decisions the district must approve."
This spring, parents connected to the athletic department organized to get answers regarding what they saw as disparities in the funding between less successful athletic teams and the champion basketball team for basic needs like sack lunches and buses to far-away games.
According to Cliff Pfenning, a reporter for www.oregonsports.com and a Jefferson parent who attended the meeting Harris barred The Skanner News from attending, parents alleged that football coaches were not reimbursed by the school for at least two out of town trips. The Oregon School Activities Association typically reimburses schools for out of town sporting events.
Athletic Director Mitch Whitehurst said the coaches are reimbursed at the end of the season. "They all got to the coaches," he told The Skanner News.
Whitehurst said he didn't know where the allegations were coming from, other than parents associated with the football program.
Jefferson boys' basketball this year won their third state title in a row.

Laundry List of Irregularities

The Jefferson student fund audit released May 20, conducted by accountant Amoy D. Williamson, specifically pointed to poor practices "at the top" of school management.
"The audit revealed a lack of internal controls over the operation of the Student Body Funds and an inconsistent tone at the top which resulted in an override of established policies and procedures without written justification," Williamson wrote.
The audit found that Harris had placed more than $23,000 from two grants -- Portland Opera Presents and the Jubitz Family Foundation -- into her "discretionary account" when those funds should have been placed into separate accounts and their use strictly tracked to make sure the money was spent in accordance to the restrictions of the grants.
"The principals claims that although the funds were placed in her discretionary account, that the spending was appropriate to the donation," the audit says.
"The Accounting and Payroll Services Department is requesting that the principal provide a report of all the disbursements relating to the two donations mentioned above to assure that the expenses were in accordance with the grantors' request."
Further, the audit found $7,590 in "reimbursements" that did not include receipts or "adequate supporting documentation."
Another area of financial irregularity reported in the audit was an array of "personal service contracts" entered into by Harris that violated requirements, including the payment of $15,000 to a private mentoring program before any contract was signed.
The audit also outlines Harris and Wilbanks' improper handling of receipts; improper handling of cash receipts; improper authorization and approvals for reimbursement; and untimely requests for expense reimbursement.
Shelby said he can't release any further details of the irregularities until the full financial audit is complete.

 

 

Read these other reports on the Jefferson High School financial situation by The Skanner News staff:

 

The Skanner Reporter Ejected from Jefferson High School Meeting , March 4, 2010

Jefferson's Boys' Academy to Close , Nov. 13, 2008

Read our Messenger-Award winning series comparing Rainier High School in Seattle and Jefferson High School in Portland:

A Tale of Two Urban Schools, Part 1 , May 29, 2008

As Jefferson Struggles, Rainier Turns the Tide, June 5, 2008

 

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