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Pasadena Unified to investigate handling of $350-million bond fund

The Pasadena Unified School District launched an investigation Thursday into the handling of its $350-million school construction bond, a day after suspending a top official and several work contracts.

On Wednesday the district placed Chief Facilities Officer David Azcárraga on leave, suspended its contract with a consultant overseeing work under the 2008 bond measure, Measure TT, and terminated four other consulting contracts.

District spokesman Adam Wolfson told the Pasadena Sun that the investigation would be conducted by Vicenti, Lloyd and Stutzman, a Glendora-based accounting firm that specializes in probing public agencies for fraud.

Officials declined to comment about the nature of the investigation.

Azcárraga, hired by the Pasadena school district in January 2011, was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday pending the outcome of the investigation, said Wolfson. Azcárraga's annual salary is $155,000, said Wolfson.

Before coming to Pasadena, Azcárraga was chief facilities officer for the Compton Unified School District and had worked for the West Contra Costa County and city of Vallejo school districts, according to a 2011 Pasadena schools hiring announcement. He had also overseen maintenance of military bases in the San Francisco Bay area for the U.S. Navy.

The district on Wednesday also suspended its contract with Robin Brown, a consultant overseeing all Measure TT contracts and projects, Wolfson said. Brown was hired in June 2011 and was earning up to $312,000 a year from the district at a rate of $150 per hour, according to district documents.

Several other contracts were terminated.

Bond-funded projects currently under construction include a new family center and student drop-off area at Madison Elementary, electrical upgrades at Marshall Fundamental, auditorium modernization at Webster Elementary, and a new classroom building and faculty parking area at Cleveland Elementary schools, according to the Measure TT website.

School board members, who met in closed session on Tuesday, declined to comment or did not return calls.

Neither Pasadena police nor the Los Angeles County district attorney's office is investigating alleged improprieties related to the school bond funds.

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--Joe Piasecki, Times Community News

 
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