The Vanguard has received material relating to County Board of Education Candidate David Murphy and his still ongoing relationship with Total School Solutions. In his conflict of interest filing, Form 700, he discloses his work for Total School Solutions located in Fairfield as a “consultant” for the amount of less than $10,000.
David Murphy is running for the Yolo County Board of Education, Area 2, against challenger Melissa Moreno. Under state law, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) requires a Form 700 to disclose economic interests.
The document also shows his spouse making over $100,000 in salary for Dignity Health, while he has a position as Adjunct Faculty at Santa Clara University where he makes between $10 and $100,000, and a position as “coach” for the Foundation for Education Administration where he earns less than $10,000.
However, the ties to Total School Solutions raise red flags for those who recall the controversy in the school district during his tenure as superintendent.
Documents attached show that in March 2018, Mr. Murphy hosted a half-day session on “Situational Leadership” where Mr. David Murphy is listed as the presenter for the workshop.
The program describes, “Participants will use the principles of this theory to confidentially assess their own areas of strengths and weaknesses in order to develop an informed plan for their own professional development after the workshop.”
The disclosure to the Vanguard also shows a copy of the publication EdBrief. It notes: “EdBrief was developed in order to provide educators and their public with a one-stop Internet site for education news and resources they can use to inform their academic, business management and research efforts.”
Importantly, “EdBrief is published by the California-based education consulting firm, Total School Solutions (TSS).”
The editor-in-chief of publication is listed as Jeff Hudson, described as a veteran journalist – who, as many locally know, is the Davis Enterprise education beat reporter. Mr. Hudson recently published articles on both David Murphy as well as his opponent, Melissa Moreno. The Davis Enterprise recently endorsed Mr. Murphy over Melissa Moreno.
“Solveig Monson is the Publisher and Arturo Cosio is the Associate Editor for EdBrief.” Ms. Monson is also a former DJUSD employee.
In 2008, the Vanguard in a series of articles highlighted the creation of the private education consulting company, Total School Solutions, by Associate Superintendent for Business Services, Tahir Ahad. The Vanguard documented that Mr. Ahad created the company while working at the school district and used district personnel, presumably working on their own time, to start up the company.
The Vanguard’s article noted that language was specifically written into Mr. Ahad’s contract that enabled him to seek outside professional activities.
The language read: “This Agreement shall not be construed to preclude the Deputy Superintendent-Business Services from undertaking outside professional activities for compensation, including consulting, speaking, and writing…”
This was arranged and approved at the time by Superintendent David Murphy. A decade later, the board would clean up conflict of interest language to preclude such arrangements.
According to former Board Member Gina Daleiden, California Education Code already prohibits some of the practices that the Vanguard has found to have occurred under Tahir Ahad.
She told the Vanguard in 2008, “My understanding of the government code is that employees should not employ other district employees in outside businesses.”
California Government Code section 1126 (a) reads: “The officer or employee shall not perform any work, service, or counsel for compensation outside of his or her local agency employment where any part of his or her efforts will be subject to approval by any other officer, employee, board, or commission of his or her employing body.”
This happened under Superintendent David Murphy’s leadership.
The Vanguard reported that consequences for this arrangement were that deadlines for funding and matching grant applications were missed that led to money, expected to go for King High renovations, ending up backfilling other funding needs – unbeknownst to the school board at the time.
This came to light at the November 2, 2006, school board meeting. Board member Gina Daleiden summed up the revelation, “We learned just a few minutes ago that more than fifty percent of the [King High] project is unpaid unless we make a decision about COPs. That is news to me.”
On December 7, 2006, Superintendent David Murphy gave what amounted to an apology to the school board. “On November 2, it was clear that five board members were surprised to learn that the complete funding of the financing project had not already been approved by a board decision and would be dependent on a current or a future board decision,” he said.
Three months later, David Murphy would announce his “retirement” effective July 31, 2007.
—David M. Greenwald reporting