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Board of Education Wonders What's Happened to Task Force

Sept. 15, 2005 – "To my knowledge, the Request for Proposal has not been finalized despite the fact that the Sept. 23, 2005 marking the end of the term of the compliance agreement draws near," Tregenza Roach, Board of Education executive director, said at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting.
Roach, in his executive report, said the territory's Education Compliance Agreement Task Force last met on Aug. 4 and 5 in an attempt to finalize the RFP to hire a third party fiduciary to oversee the federal funds received by the Education Department as required by the U.S. Department of Education Compliance Agreement. (See
"USDOE Calls For Trustee to Manage Federal Funds").
Numerous warnings had been received from the USDOE relative to hiring a fiduciary. Finally, in June the federal agency said no more funds would be sent to the V.I. until the local department complied with the order.
Subsequent task force meetings scheduled for Aug. 18 and Sept. 1 were canceled on short notice, Roach said. Roach also informed the board he learned later, that on Sept. 1, "select members" of the task force met with federal officials who were in the territory for a meeting with the Education Department. "The Board received no notice of this meeting," and other members of the task force were "neither invited no informed of the meeting," he said..
Board member Terrence D. Joseph said the responsibility to insure that the territory fulfills the compliance agreement falls on the task force and its co-chairs Juel Molloy and Ira Mills. Molloy is chief of staff to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Mills is director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Some board members questioned whether Molloy was still part of the task force. Molloy resigned from the board in early 2004, but reconsidered her resignation soon after. (See "Molloy Reconsidering Task Force Resignation").
Roach said Mills appeared before a Senate committee hearing on July 15 and told senators the RPF was "near completion" and would be issued the following week.
"There seems to be no urgency or concern about the loss of federal funds," member Debra Watlington said."Was [Mills testimony] just to pacify the senate?" she asked.
Judy Gomez, board chair, expressed that she would not have put her signature on the compliance agreement. "If we knew that we could not meet these goals we should have not been a signatory," Gomez said.
"The deadlines were not possible," Roach said. "The timetables were overly ambitious."
Board members tried to get Gomez to agree to attend the next meeting of the task force, but she was resistant. Gomez said the executive director was tasked to attend the meeting and report to the board. The request for Gomez to attend the next scheduled meeting was put to a vote and failed.
The next scheduled task force meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15, however, some board members questioned whether that meeting was canceled also.

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