Guam Department of Education Finance Staff Resignations May Delay Audits

Guam's education department faces potential audit delays due to key finance staff resignations, raising concerns about political interference and a toxic work environment.

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Guam Department of Education Finance Staff Resignations May Delay Audits

Guam Department of Education Finance Staff Resignations May Delay Audits

The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) is facing potential delays in audits due to the resignations of key finance staff members. Public Auditor Benjamin J.F. Cruz has expressed concerns that these resignations may impact the timely completion of audits for both GDOE and the Guam government.

Joann Camacho, the former GDOE deputy superintendent of finance and administration, resigned after being told by Superintendent Erik Swanson that she "had to go." Camacho believes her removal was "political retribution" due to her husband's challenge of the Leon Guerrero administration in the last gubernatorial race. However, Guam Education Board Chairwoman Mary Okada denied any directive from the Office of the Governor to remove Camacho, stating that the superintendent has sole discretion in managing his deputies.

Okada acknowledged that the handling of the GDOE budget was "a little bumpy," but said the board was informed of Camacho's departure and thanked her for her service. The board has also asked for a cutoff date for the transition from the old finance team to the new, with the superintendent setting a deadline of December 31st ahead of the January budget submission to the Legislature.

In an open letter, Camacho expressed appreciation for the opportunities to serve the students, parents, and staff of GDOE, and for the support and guidance of Superintendent Swanson. She responded to comments made by GDOE chair Mary Okada regarding her resignation, stating that it had nothing to do with errors in the preparation of the GDOE budget. Camacho believes that her removal was due to political pressure exerted on Superintendent Swanson to make changes, which she considers to be political retribution.

Camacho also shared her observations about the toxic working environment within the GDOE Board of Education, including micromanagement, interference in operations, and unprofessional conduct towards management and staff. She discussed challenges faced by GDOE, such as the need to right-size schools due to decreased student population, the difficulty in recruiting certified teachers, and the ongoing repairs and projects related to Typhoon Mawar.

Why this matters: The resignations of key finance staff at the Guam Department of Education could have significant implications for the timely completion of audits, potentially impacting financial oversight and transparency. The allegations of political retribution and a toxic working environment within GDOE raise concerns about the stability and effectiveness of the department's leadership and operations.

As the Guam Department of Education navigates these challenges, it remains to be seen how the resignations and transition of finance staff will impact the audit process and the overall functioning of the department. Superintendent Swanson has set a deadline of December 31st for the transition to a new finance team, ahead of the January budget submission to the Legislature. The Guam Education Board will need to closely monitor the situation to ensure a smooth transition and the timely completion of audits, while also addressing the concerns raised by Camacho regarding the working environment and challenges faced by GDOE.

Key Takeaways

  • GDOE faces audit delays due to resignations of key finance staff.
  • Former GDOE deputy superintendent Camacho claims political retribution for her removal.
  • GDOE board chair denies directive from governor's office to remove Camacho.
  • Camacho cites toxic work environment and challenges like teacher recruitment.
  • GDOE sets Dec 31 deadline for finance team transition before budget submission.