HESPERIA — Hesperia Unified School District officials left a contract bid for after-hours security services unopened, citing a conflict of interest, and will look for new bids for the services, according to district records.
The district received three bids total, including one from True Liberty Protection Services, which is owned by Trustee Cody Gregg. Two of the three were deemed unresponsive, and the third by Gregg’s company was left unopened, according to a district memo obtained by the Daily Press.
Board President Nicole Childs declined to comment regarding the move and referred questions to Superintendent David McLaughlin.
Gregg said in an email that he didn’t believe there was a conflict of interest as long as a board member “recuses themselves” from the vote. He claims the district, “violated our rights to participate in the open and competitive bidding process.” He also questioned whether the district’s action to not open the bid was a “form of retaliation.”
“If this information is not correct, I’d be happy to exclude our company from the bidding process,” Gregg wrote. “However, the district’s decision to automatically disqualify our bid is a concern that will need to be addressed. Who at the HUSD arbitrarily removed True Liberty Protection Services from the vendor list? And on what legal basis did this occur? ”
McLaughlin said in a written statement that board bylaws and government code “make it clear” that the board cannot award a contract in which a board member has a financial interest. The district bylaws refer to California Government Code 1090, which states that members of governing bodies “shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.”
“(Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Alan) Giles and our purchasing department are vigilant in their efforts to conduct all business within strict government guidelines and regulations,” McLaughlin said. “Mindful of a possible conflict of interest, staff did not consider the proposal. The board expressed concern regarding a conflict during the meeting, and agreed to a decision to re-bid the project.”
Gregg also questioned the legality of board member Eric Swanson’s previous votes on Hesperia Teachers Association contracts that Gregg claims benefited Swanson’s spouse and household.
McLaughlin said there is an exception which “specifically provides” that a school board member may vote on collective bargaining agreements and personnel matters that affect a class of employees to which his or her relative belongs.