Dallas ISD Chief Auditor Resigns Days After Fractious Meeting

Just two days after an intense meeting regarding Dallas ISD’s internal auditing – including an hours-long executive session, Chief Auditor Steve Martin resigned, the district announced Thursday.

Martin led the district’s office of internal audit and reported to the board of trustees. He joined the district in January 2019.

“We cannot comment on the personal motivations of Mr. Martin for this decision,” a statement from the school board sent by the district said.

At the heart of the confrontation is two audits that Martin submitted last year, and a scheduled peer review Martin insisted was not to be until December 2021 but instead was listed for discussion on the board’s audit committee meeting agenda Tuesday – less than a year after he took the job.

Trustee Edwin Flores is the chair of that committee. Fellow trustees Dustin Marshall and Maxie Johnson and community members Toni Stephens and Marlon Williams also serve on it.

Martin said the two audits raised concerns that the district overpaid more than $333,000 for $1.2 million in construction contracts. He said he was reviewing another 12 contracts. One of the audits requested that the district refer the matter to the Dallas District Attorney’s office.

People Newspapers will have more on that audit committee meeting next week. The rest of the board’s statement on Martin’s resignation is below:

“More than two years ago and prior to Mr. Martin’s hiring, the district discovered potential overpayments made by the District to outside vendors for construction projects completed in 2015 and 2016. When these potential overpayments were discovered more than two years ago, the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent made sweeping changes that included the dissolution of the Capital Improvement Department that oversaw these transactions, a peer review of the Purchasing Department, the formation of a Procurement Compliance Committee to review and bring forward new purchasing policies and procedures, and a number of other proactive compliance initiatives. These measures were publicly disclosed at that time.

The comprehensive review that brought about these changes was conducted by outside legal counsel, and those results and recommendations were presented to the Audit Committee and to the Board in 2018. The findings were also turned over to federal law enforcement. The Audit Committee and the Board have met with the Compliance Committee throughout 2019 and 2020 and are working jointly to review and implement significant changes to the District’s purchasing policies and procedures.

The Board requested that Mr. Martin investigate and calculate the amount of any potential overpayments on the relevant contracts, in part to determine the viability of recovering those funds through negotiations or other means. The board has since received serious allegations regarding the validity of the Internal Auditor’s methodology and the accuracy of the calculations.

To clarify, Mr. Martin did not discover the overpayment issues with these contracts and was not being prevented from investigating them. Because these matters are under investigation, further comment is not appropriate.

The District and the Board remain committed to the highest standards and practices in procurement and contracting, to integrity and professionalism in every aspect of the District’s operations, and to the most efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars and to fully and completely investigate these issues.”

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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