LANCASTER — An­tel­ope Valley Union High School District governing Board President Robert “Bob” Davis and Vice President Victoria Ruffin are targeting the Antelope Valley Press, following a series of stories detailing the new Board majority’s ac­tions at their Jan. 24 meet­ing.

Ruffin singled out a pur­chase order item at Thurs­day’s meeting con­cern­ing $2,000 in legal ad­ver­tisements to the Valley Press for the Partners in Nu­tri­tion Cooperative, or PINCO.

PINCO is a food co-op of 38 school districts in Cal­if­ornia, led by the High School District under a Joint Powers Agreement.

The PINCO purchase order schedule listed more than $1.4 million in items, primarily for food-related goods. In addition to the Valley Press, the schedule included $1,500 to Croad Electronic for repair and maintenance and $2,700 to Sage Software for software renewal.

“All of the purchase or­der­ing under here looks like it’s for food and then these three just kind of stand out,” Ruffin said. “So is there an explanation as to what legal ads went out for the PINCO?”

Assistant Su­per­in­ten­dent of Business Services Brian Hawkins explained when PINCO does bidding, the District has to do it through legal ads.

“These are for ads in the Valley Press that advertise our bidding or bids,” Haw­kins said.

Ruffin asked how often the District does those bids.

“Annually,” Hawkins re­plied.

Ruffin repeated, “An­nual­ly? So this is our an­nu­al timeframe right now, just this one window.”

He then asked for a bud­get history of the District’s legal ad­ver­tisements for the past two years.

District counsel Bridget Cook asked whether that was specific to the Valley Press.

“It says here, this is spec­ific for one company,” Ruf­fin said. “But if there’s any vendors that we solicit or market legal ads for, for PINCO, I would like to see a copy.”

Davis asked whether the District already placed the advertisements and are paying for what has been published.

Hawkins said yes.

“Are there any other news agencies that we can use in the future, or can we bid out any of the (ads)?” Davis asked.

PINCO Chairman Joe Cook said the District uses the Valley Press and the Ba­kers­field Californian for legal advertisements be­cause they cover the maj­or­ity of the PINCO member districts.

The Requests for Pro­po­sals also are placed on the PINCO website. PINCO vendors are also noticed.

“We place it per Ed Code and guidelines,” Cook said.

A second PINCO ad was scheduled to run in today’s newspaper.

Ruffin also questioned Hawkins regarding a pro­posed contract for Lan­cast­er-based Steven’s Con­stru­ction  Inc., which sub­mit­ted the lowest bid for a composites lab at Knight High School.

“It’s supposed to be a third of those contracts that are supposed to go out to minority bidders,” Ruf­fin said. “Did we have an op­por­tunity to bid this out to minority bidders at any point?”

The District had five con­struction firms conduct a walk-through of the pro­posed project, of which two firms submitted a bid.

Hawkins explained the District is required, under public contract code, to advertise the bid in a paper of general circulation.

“And which paper was that?” Ruffin asked.

The  bid was advertised in the Valley Press over two Sundays.

“Do we have a contract with the Antelope  Valley Press?” Ruffin said.

Hawkins replied, not to his knowledge.

“We pay for each one of these as we’re required by law to do,” he said.

“We just pay for each one, so there’s no contract with the Antelope Valley Press,” Ruffin said.

Superintendent David Vierra said they can check to see if the District has a subscription.

Ruffin asked how the District selects where they place such advertisements.

The District is required to publish, in a newspaper of general circulation in the community, where the high school district operates.

The Valley Press is the news­paper of general cir­cu­lation, Hawkins said.

The Board majority of Davis, Ruffin and Board Clerk Amanda Parrell, has been criticized in letters to the editor published in the Valley Press, following the stories detailing actions they took at the Jan. 24 meeting.

Those include awarding a contract worth up to $75,000 to Kathleen Van Ant­werp, an associate of Davis, for about four months’ work to implement her company Full Circle Con­sult­ing Systems Inc.’s S.T.O.P. educational model.

Davis, Ruffin and Par­rell also voted to award a con­tract to D’Vacor En­ter­tainment Group, a north­ern California-based events and entertainment plan­­ning company led by Ruf­fin associate Rose Lyles, to create an individual website for the trio, at an estimated cost of up to $5,000 each and $1,000 a month for maintenance.

The open-ended contract also includes travel ex­pen­ses.

Trustees Jill McGrady and John Rush voted ag­ainst the contract with Full Circle Consulting Sys­tems and D’Vacor En­ter­tainment Group.

D’Vacor Entertainment Group created campaign materials for Ruffin, who was elected to the Board last November, for a four-year term.

When asked by McGrady how she found the District Lyles replied, “I have on­line methods.”

However, Lyles and Ruf­fin are listed as contacts for Diverse Communities in Action Movement, de­scribed on the entity’s web­site as “a group of peop­le, working together to ad­vance shared social and po­lit­ical ideals.”

Lyles is also listed as the chief editor, CEO and senior designer for Cal­if­or­nia Black Expo.com for last year’s California Black Expo, of which Ruffin is listed as part of the South­ern California Expo team.

The Board also heard a school security proposal by Bruce Frank, a former co-work­er of Davis, for K12 Sec­ure at the Jan. 24 meet­ing. He could not pro­vide a cost estimate at the meet­ing possibly be­cause he only started the en­deavor in December.

When the proposal for K12 Secure’s services came before the Board at Thursday’s meeting, the estimated cost was $62,240. However, Davis an­nounced at the start of the meeting, an amended cost of $48,500.

The Board majority approved that amount with McGrady and Ruffin dissenting.

Rod Penner, a former Palmdale City councilman, addressed the Board at Thursday’s meeting as a former elected official, the father of two graduates from the high school district and the grandfather of a current high school student and two up-and-coming students.

“I learned a lot of les­sons,” Penner said. “I can tell you that it’s not only im­portant to do the right thing; it’s important on how you do it.”

He mentioned articles in the Valley Press regarding actions taken by the Board majority.

“I have to concentrate these comments to what’s been described as the Board majority,” Penner said. “You’ve been in office for a little over two months and you’ve not made a good name for yourself.”

Penner deemed the articles “straight­forward and pretty fact­ual.”

“And they’re con­cern­ing,” he said. “When I com­pare those to opinions sub­mitted to the editor, I’m really troubled.”

Penner said the opinions cover people from various walks of life and political affiliations and leanings.

The terms he highlighted were collusion, nepotism, fol­low the money and fail­ure to properly discuss items.

“There’s even be two or three times with people asking is it time for a recall,” Penner said, “Two months and people are already saying the recall word. It’s not important not only what you do, but how you do it.”

He noted the Board was in the process of handing out what appear to be questionable and lucrative con­tracts to friends and as­so­ciates.

“Are they most qualified to receive those contracts?” Penner said. “Are they the appropriate people to re­ceive these contracts? Are these contracts financially responsible?”

He suggested the Board’s personal websites could be done for less by a student, as a senior project.

“I’m just sitting back and watching right now,” Pen­ner said. “But I’m troubled by what I’m seeing and what I’m reading and what I’m hearing. You need to real­ly rethink the way you’re doing things.”

To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to editor@avpress.com or mail it to Letters to Editor, P.O. Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050

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(1) comment

gatlin

it seems to me that the board is upset by the reporting of recent actions in the Vallet Press and is trying to find some way to strike back at the paper. The stories seem factual and well supported by quotes and leave it to the reader to draw his own conclusions. This is the role of a community newspaper and the they should be commended for encouraging discussion and contributing facts to it.

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