School chief’s wife defends contracts with district
December 23, 2011
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Rancorous relations among factions in the Coast Unified School District (CUSD) fester after the wife of district Superintendent Chris Adams angrily and publicly derided “lies and accusations about our family that pervade our district and community and affect my daughters.”
Julie Adams made her comments in a blistering, 3,200-word email received late last week by CUSD parents and other Cambria-area residents. In it, she addressed allegations that Chris Adams has been funneling district funds to her and her father-in-law through contracts for electrical work and educational consulting.
She singled out people she believes to be responsible for “making time-consuming claims” about her and her husband at school board meetings. She said those people “are involved in PTA, Site Council, Boosters, etc….”
Also, the Adams were investigated recently by district-retained attorneys after the Adams’ children’s names showed up on a list of free lunch recipients. The form filled out by Julie Adams reported their combined monthly income to be more than $26,000, but the subsequent investigation revealed no purposeful wrongdoing.
The probe was conducted by attorney Roman Munoz of the Sacramento law firm Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, which has represented the district since 2007.
In her tersely-worded email, Julie Adams wrote, “A small group of people who have nothing better to do on Thursday evenings, at least until karaoke starts, have made it their entertainment fodder to attend board meetings and make time-consuming claims and then perpetuate the falsities at school events or elsewhere.”
Julie Adams noted in the communication that she wrote and distributed the email without her husband’s prior knowledge or approval.
While turmoil between parents and school officials is hardly uncommon, the current atmosphere at CUSD — which one parent described as “fetid” — may have been preordained from the start of her husband’s tenure as superintendent. Julie Adams wrote in her email, “When I moved to Cambria three years ago, many told me… to be careful in my dealings with a few people.”
Speakers at board meetings have complained that Julie Adams has been profiting from the school district through her educational consulting firm. Others pointed out that Larry’s Lighting, owned by Chris Adams’ father and located in Redding, has been receiving no-bid contract work from the CUSD since 2009.
Asked about these family-related deals, both Chris and Julie Adams referred CalCoastNews to attorney Munoz.
In response to Public Records Act requests spanning three months, Munoz eventually provided documentation showing that both Julie Adams and Larry Adams have received payments from the district.
According to those documents, Larry’s Lighting was paid $21,479.09 from 2009-2011. During the same period, payments to each of the other electrical companies previously used by the district either stopped or steadily declined after 2009.
Gary Gowdy’s company was one of those; contracts from the district for his electrical services totaled $10,787.28 during the same period but decreased to virtually zero once Larry’s Lighting made the CUSD payroll.
At one meeting in 2010, district trustees agreed they had no problem with the Adams-to-Adams arrangement, that Larry’s Lighting was “saving” them money, that his work was satisfactory, and that they did not perceive nepotism to be a factor in any way.
Julie Adams owns Adams Educational Consulting. In 2009, just months after her husband was hired as superintendent, a group called the California League of High Schools (CLHS) contracted with the CUSD to conduct a three-day “Content Area Literacy Boot Camp” and several other teachers’ seminars for $21,900.
Munoz said the services provided by Julie Adams to the district “on behalf of the California League of High Schools… are considered a ‘remote interest’ under California’s conflict of interest statute.” Therefore, he added, the district “is permitted to contract for services with… Julie Adams.”
Callers to the telephone number in Long Beach provided by CLHS are informed by recorded message that they have reached “Julie Adams with Adams Educational Consulting.”
Munoz said no additional district funds have been paid to Julie Adams or to groups associated with her or her consulting company since last year.
“Our office is informed that the district has not made payments to CLMS for consulting services since early 2010,” wrote Munoz in an email.
But despite her reluctance to talk to reporters about her district business, Julie Adams did discuss the issue… briefly… in her widely-distributed email.
“Another misconception I would like to address,” she wrote, “is that I am on the district’s payroll and that my firm, Adams Educational Consulting, has made over $100,000 in consulting fees over the past three years from Coast Unified. Not true. I have gladly donated over $40,000 to CUSD in teacher trainings, materials, instructional coaching, and curriculum development and taught a portion of summer school for free.”
Then there is the curious case of the letter to the editor that appeared in The Cambrian earlier this month, ostensibly from a man named “Pedro Garcia.”
At least, that is the name that appeared in the newspaper under a letter containing naked praise for the district’s superintendent, Chris Adams.
The letter, in part, read: “The Hispanic community respects and appreciates all that Superintendent Adams, the school board, the principals, counselors and teachers do to meet our students’ and families’ needs. Coast Unified does far more for our children than other districts our families have been a part of.”
Efforts by parents of school children in the CUSD to locate anyone in the area named “Pedro Garcia” bore no fruit. The typed and faxed letter was sent to the newspaper without an address or contact telephone number, but was published nonetheless.
The telephone number from which the fax originated was imprinted on the transmission copy: it’s a Redding number last assigned to Chris Adams.
The “Garcia letter” took to task a parent who has criticized district administration, Lee Chamberlain.
Coincidentally, Chamberlain’s name came up in the Julie Adams email, too, when she detailed what she called his “inaccuracies” in a recent newspaper opinion piece. In her email commentary, Julie Adams mentioned the very same program praised by “Pedro Garcia” in the letter to The Cambrian, ELAC/DELAC (which provides for second language parent advocacy meetings).
Document: Julie Adams Subject: A Parent’s Perspective
JulieAdams Letter Sd