News release from Mono County District Attorney’s Office
On January 18, 2018, a complaint was lodged with the Office of the District Attorney against Dr. Stacey Adler, Superintendent of the Mono County Office of Education. The criminal nature of the complaint alleges that Dr. Adler was misappropriating public funds by paying out stipends to individual employees without approval from the Mono County Office of Education Board.
Through an investigation into the matter, it was factually determined that the specific stipends that were alleged in the complaint were given to certain employees in exchange for additional work that they had performed which fell outside of their normal job responsibilities. In 2013 the Mono County Office of Education was requested to assist on several outside projects and entered into contracts to assist those agencies with the work. As a result of these contracts, additional work responsibilities was given to several individuals. This work is still on-going. It was found that all the work was documented and approved by the Superintendent and that funds were specifically set aside within the contracts to pay these individuals for that work. Dr. Adler also performed work pursuant to these contracts.
Finally, it was determined that the Mono County Office of Education Board as well as the Mono County Office of Education do not have any policies or procedures that address stipends, bonus, or other payment types which would have either governed the process or limited the Superintendent’s authority to issue stipends. However, there is some indication that the Board was aware that stipends may be given for this additional work based on a prior Board meeting, in which the discussion of stipends for this work was on the Board’s agenda for informational purposes only. The minutes show that documents were given to the Board and a discussion with the Superintendent took place regarding the issuance of stipends for work performed under these contracts.
Absent any policies, this Office looked to the statutory codes, guidelines and legislative intent under the codes and has concluded that under Section 1302 of the Education Code, Dr. Adler was within her statutory authority to issue these types of stipends and did so within the limits that the codes allow. Without any policies in place, the only limits on the Superintendent’s authority is that a Superintendent cannot give more than $10,000 to any one individual per year without Board approval. This never occurred. Further, a Superintendent cannot give oneself a salary increase without Board approval. This did not occur because a stipend is not a salary increase. Records show that all past increases to Dr. Adler’s salary have been Board approved. One additional point, for an act to be criminal there must be criminal intent involved. Since the stipends were given to individual employees in exchange for additional work that they had performed, there was no such finding.
The complaint was rejected for filing based on a finding that there was no criminal conduct of misappropriation of public funds.