SPS Board Members Remain Silent Over Allegations A Top School Official Engaged In Nepotism, Featherbedding In Pressuring Contractor To Hire Her And Other SPS Officials' Sons And Then Paying Them With District/Taxpayer Funds
At its Monday meeting, the Saugatuck Public School (SPS) Board of Education said nothing in response to concerns expressed from the alleged injured party and the general public about ongoing investigative newspaper reports that some SPS administrative staff are engaging in nepotism, featherbedding and possibly illegal action in relationship to a terminated contract with a previous custodial services provider.
“There is a difference between one and the rest (of the allegations against SPS staff) and the conflict of interest is by far the most serious, and I will not let that go,” Saugatuck Township resident Mike McCluskey told the school board.
McCluskey, who has a child in fifth grade in the district, was citing a May 13 Local Observer newspaper article in which Elizabeth Broderick, SPS Director of Business, Transportation and HR Service, is reported to have abruptly cancelled a 12-year contract with its previous custodial provider, All In One Cleaning Services of Fennville, in a way that raises serious questions and sets the stage for possible legal action against the district on behalf of the company and its owner.
Broderick announced she was ending the district’s long-time affiliation with All In One Cleaning Services in July, 2015 and replaced it with another cleaning company called Aramark.
This came only after All In One Cleaning Services had first - at the request and pressure of Broderick in 2011, said the company’s owner Becky Carten-Crandell - hired Broderick’s son (Joey) and the sons of other school officials (SPS Basketball Coach Tom Kazen and Teachers’ Union President Betsy Webbert) for job positions.
“The problem was there was never a need for those boys to be hired; and I certainly didn’t want to hire them as my employees, but Broderick pressured me to do so,” said Carten-Crandell.
The salaries of Broderick’s son and the other young men were billed to and paid by the schoold district and they were paid with public monies, SPS records reveal.
Carten-Crandell said Broderick dumped her company in early 2015 after Broderick asked her to come up with ways to cut costs in the school district’s cleaning services’ budget and she recommended getting rid of Broderick’s son and the other school officials’ sons to save SPS - and the taxpayers who were ultimately footing the bill - the money.
“Wasn’t there a little voice of apprehension that the person who writes the checks (Broderick) is also the person who signs the contracts. For me that would be screaming conflict of interest,” said McCluskey.
Broderick was in charge of the custodial contract with All In One Cleaning and even dictated how much her own son the sons of the other school officials would be paid, what their work schedules should be, what days off they could have, and so on, according to SPS records obtained by The Local Observer in Freedom of Information Act requests.
Carten-Crandell, owner of All In One Cleaning, says she felt intimidated by Broderick and was afraid of losing her contract with the district if she did not comply with Broderick’s request to hire her son and the other sons of school officials.
At Monday’s meeting, she iterated her concerns and raised questions about the way Broderick and other school officials, namely SPS Superintendent Rolfe Timmerman, have handled the situation.
“The days of bullying and the good old boys club in the professional workplace must come to an end,” Carten-Crandell told the school board Monday, in part, from a prepared written statement.
Responding to statements previously made by school officials to the newspaper, Carten-Crandell noted, “What is embarrassing is the fact Mr. Timmerman thought my one-page addendum of renewal rates I presented in early 2015 was my entire contract proposal. I guess he has never seen the original contract drafted by my attorneys in 2009-2010.”
Carten-Crandell went on to list a number of items she said had gone unnoticed by the district. “There is also a paragraph with facts on how I have saved the district $77,200 over the past 14 years by cutting it from my budget. Another paragraph that reads as follows: ‘It is my belief we are heading down a dangerous path, we have cut back on manpower buying new equipment, even supplies, repairs and more, (and) these types of cuts will eventually catch up to the district costing even more.’”
Records obtained by The Local Observer raises serious questions as to why exactly the district terminated the contract with its 12-year cleaning company provider and how top school officials got jobs for their sons.
Also causing concern among several SPS parents and taxpayers, was that there was no official requests for proposals (RFPs) made by SPS officials for the district’s cleaning contract to all outside vendors each time the contract was up for renewal.
And despite staff, several administrators and teachers speaking to the high-quality service provided by All In One Cleaning over the years, and despite the fact that Aramark comes out - in its proposed 2015-2016 contract - to be tens of thousands ($56,977) more expensive to the district’s taxpayers than the contract that All In One proposed, $129,602 to Aramark’s $186,579 (excluding cleaning supply costs), SPS chose to give them the district’s cleaning contract, said Carten-Crandell.
“Make no mistake about it,” she added, “my company didn’t lose the SPS contract until I recommended Broderick’s and the other SPS officials’ sons jobs be cut with my company because their jobs were unnecessary and that this was all part of Broderick and her family making more money off the back of the taxpayers. It’s that plain and simple - and wrong!”
SPS Board members chose to remain silent about the ongoing controversy Monday night.
Meanwhile Carten-Crandell says she is discussing possible lawsuits against the school district with her attorneys.