The Kern High School District is working with the state Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office related to allegations that high-ranking district administrators misused a police information database, Trustee Mike Williams announced in a prepared statement Tuesday.
It remains unclear whether the DOJ and Attorney General’s office are actively investigating the district.
Williams, the only trustee to publicly address the alleged misuse of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, made the brief statement during a public board meeting, but would not elaborate on the possibility of state law enforcement investigations.
“The district has also contacted and is working with various law enforcement agencies including the Kern County Sheriff’s, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Justice and the California Attorney General’s Office related to the criminal allegations of CLETS misuse,” Williams said.
When asked directly whether the DOJ and Attorney General’s office are investigating the matter, Williams referred reporters to his prepared statement. The DOJ’s office told The Californian last month that it would neither confirm nor deny an investigation.
Meanwhile, KHSD hired Sacramento-based Van Dermyden Maddux, a third-party investigative law firm, to look into the allegations that former KHSD Police Chief Mike Collier and his boss, Director of Pupil Personnel Otis Jennings, obtained information through CLETS and furnished it to people not authorized to receive it.
The outcome of the investigation falls under attorney-client privilege. Williams said he’s unsure whether reports will be made public after the firm concludes its investigation. That’s a matter he’s leaving up to district lawyers, he said.
That contract has no associated cost-ceiling, and one expert has told The Californian that similar contracts have price tags that run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Although Williams described that figure as “a stretch” and that the investigation will cost significantly less, he admitted he has no idea how long the investigation will last.
“I don’t think the money is relevant. Right now, we have to make sure the government systems are being used properly,” Williams said, adding that the length of the investigation is “a matter of getting cooperation. There’s a lot of people to line up.”
When asked whether there were any individuals not cooperating, Williams refused to comment.
Sheriff’s officials investigating the matter this year cited Jennings — who told investigators he would fax them a statement, but never did — as uncooperative in their investigation.
Williams told The Californian after the meeting that he’s reluctant to discuss the investigation in depth because he’d rather wait for all of the facts to come in at the conclusion of the third-party probe, which only deals with personnel matters and is not a criminal investigation.
“I don’t want to spew gossip to the public before the investigation is over,” Williams said, adding that employees’ careers and reputations are on the line, but that there’s “lots of things I know the public doesn’t know” about the matter.