Complaints by Corbett citizens regarding the actions of the Superintendent, the School Board and/or the Corbett School District have been documented on this site over the years. For the most part, those making these complaints stop at the level of a frustrated email to the Superintendent or School Board. Some citizens take time to address their concerns at a public school board meeting. Some citizens have also taken the extra steps to file “formal complaints”. This is one such formal complaint filed this year, and the way it was handled.
Complaint by Gary Purvine: That a recent purchase of real estate property by CSD was done without appraisal, research into zoning (it is zoned farming land) or even a reason given for this purchase. See below for the actual submitted complaint.
Remedy: The complaint form requires the person filing the complaint fill in a “remedy” (something that you would find satisfactory to the situation). See below for submitted remedy.
Timeline: The complaint was originally sent by certified mail on August 9, 2017. There was no direct acknowledgement of receipt to the person who filed it. It was mentioned at the August School Board Meeting and then dismissed at the September 2017 School Board Meeting. The Superintendent did not respond until two months later (10/19/17) when questioned by the person about the complaint. See the response/letter from Randy below.
Result: Randy Trani (Superintendent of CSD) stated in his response that he sent the complaint to the CSD’s lawyers – and because the lawyers did not identify any laws or policies broken – they were dismissing the complaint completely.
Note: There was never an invitation for an informal meeting, which they have done with all the formal complaints in the recent past. Another citizen had filed a complaint at one point a few years ago, and one of the board members called them personally to arrange an informal meeting but then they were actually talked out of pursuing the complaint. No calls were made in this case.
THE COMPLAINT & REMEDY
Sent August 9, 2017
I am filing this complaint against the Corbett School District Board Members and the Superintendent of the Corbett School District, Randy K. Trani. This is in regards to the recent purchase of real property located off South of 35420 E. Historic Columbia River Highway and belonging to the Mershon family.
The property was assessed by the Multnomah County Assessor for $4,760.00, with an estimated real market value of $61,000, yet the District purchased this property in December of 2016 for $150,000.
Zoning code for this piece of property is EFU CLS 3, DRY. This zoning is not adequate for use by a school unless the school intends to begin teaching agriculture or farming its own food. There has been zero discussion of either of those options in a public meeting.
My discussion with the County Planners regarding this zone is that any use of the land other than for farming is not considered best use and would be very difficult to change. The conditional use application to use it for either a soccer field, or parking lot, (as stated by then Board Chair Mickalson at time of purchase,) would be further complicated by the fact the property has a Key Viewing area designation on the zoning overlay maps, and falls under Federal Control since it is within the Columbia River National Scenic Water Ways.
At the time I spoke with the County Land Use Planning Department (after the purchase) there was no record of anyone from the Corbett School District speaking to a planner regarding allowable use of this property.
No appraisal was done on this property to insure the District was getting the best value for the land. An appraisal would have taken in to consideration the zoning and allowable uses and would not have considered the land as a building lot, reducing the value of the property.
The Superintendent has announced at public board meetings that the District takes calculated risks when making decisions on expanding student populations, which impacts the District’s finances. We have seen where those “calculated risks” have harmed the District’s bottom line, and impacted the students negatively.
Based on review of Board minutes, discussion with board meeting attendees, and independent research into this property I believe the Superintendent and the Board as a whole did not follow prudent actions when purchasing this property for the District.
REMEDY SUBMITTED WITH COMPLAINT:
The School Board and Superintendent did not have a proper basis for obligating the District financially because it is apparent that prudent research was not done to produce a sensible transaction.
While the Superintendent may claim the purchase was done by the vote of the Board and removes any of his obligations and responsibilities, it is the job of the Superintendent to make sure all necessary information is provided to the Board prior to their voting. It is also the responsibility of the Board as a whole to make sure they have all the necessary information and that they request additional reports from the Superintendent or outside sources when more information is required.
Failure by the Superintendent and Board to insure all necessary information was provided prior to voting has produced an unjustifiable debt for the Corbett School District.
Realizing that the contract can not be voided due to the failure on the part of the purchasing party to practice due diligence, I am asking as a remedy:
1. The transferring of the debt equally to the eight members involved in the purchase process.
If a licensed real estate agent was involved in the matter as a buyer’s agent and they failed to recommend that the District have an appraisal done, or meet with the County to discuss allowable uses of the property, then I am requesting that they be included in the responsibility for the debt.
2. I am also requesting that all current and future real estate negotiations be removed from the Superintendent’s duties and be appointed to a Board advisory committee.
RESPONSE FROM RANDY TRANI: