BCPS Transportation head alleges mismanagement, malfeasance, fraud and abuse; requests outside investigation by law enforcement
“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for unnecessary vehicle parts that are disappearing on top of that.” — Chester Tindall
By K. Chandler
As a follow-up to the Jan. 29th 2013 Westside Gazette article: Embattled BCPS transportation head blows whistle on nepotism & corruption, Chester Tindall, 50, stated that corruption within the Transportation Dept. runs far deeper than what meets the eye upon initial examination. So deep in fact that he felt compelled to take his allegations to outside law enforcement agencies to investigate.
By way of example, Tindall pointed to the Vehicle Maintenance Dept., noting that thousands of parts had been previously purchased but mysteriously disappeared over time. A full 42 percent of the parts purchased, he said, the Transportation Dept. didn’t even have vehicles for.
“This became a huge problem. Who was managing that? Who was authorizing the continual purchase of these unnecessary parts for departmental vehicles? And what was happening to these parts once they were purchased? We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for unnecessary parts that are disappearing on top of that,” stated the Transportation Director for the BCPS system.
Tindall also pointed to the thousands of tires that were purchased prior to his coming on board that couldn’t be accounted for either.
“There was no proper accountability system set up.
When I asked questions such as: ‘Where did we purchase these tires from; what vehicles were they used on,’ I couldn’t get a straight answer anywhere. The cost was also a big question mark, as well as the contracts involved in purchasing these tires.” (It might be noted that the BCPS Transportation Dept. is not involved in the bidding process as that comes out of the District’s Purchasing Dept.)
“These were systemic issues,” he observed, adding that his problems weren’t just limited to the maintenance department and missing vehicle parts, however.
Set up to fail?
“Senior staff refused to support the hiring request I submitted months earlier for 100 school bus drivers to be hired in April so they’d be up and ready by the start of school in Sept.
“Donnie Carter, Chief Operating Officer, and Nancy Diaz, head of Human Resources refused to process my hiring request. I couldn’t get an answer as to why they wouldn’t process my request. I wasn’t asking for new positions, only the positions that had already been approved and funded.”
Despite his attempts to find out what was going on, Tindall said he got no response in April or in May.
“Finally, I went to the Board workshop in June and told them they were going to have a bad start-up in Sept. as it takes six weeks to train a driver and they weren’t anywhere near prepared. So the Board and senior staff knew what the impact was going to be months before Sept.”
Tindall also said that senior staff – particularly Donnie Carter, former interim superintendent who’d been turned down for the top post – viewed him as an ‘outsider’ coming from Chicago with Superintendent Bob Runcie, and therefore he had no intention of helping him in the least.
“They knew the outcome if the new bus drivers weren’t trained in time. They essentially set me up for failure,” stated Tindall.
Dept. consolidating forces to affect cover-up
According to the embattled transportation head, the corruption was so rampant and so ignored by the District that he felt compelled to work with outside law enforcement agencies to investigate.
“It’s about business and tax-payer’s money. I’m cooperating as much as possible regarding allegations of mismanagement, malfeasance, fraud and abuse.”
When asked if he envisioned a positive outcome, Tindall said he thought that the Broward County Public School system was already trying to consolidate forces in an effort to affect a cover-up.
“My bet is that they’re going to bring in somebody from the community to head up the Transportation Dept. with the intent of maintaining the status quo.”