LA GRANDE - The Union-Baker Education Service District has started to make changes in policies and procedures in the wake of a forensic audit that was made public Sept. 8.

Recall petitions on three UBESD board members were turned in to county clerks in Union and Baker counties Tuesday.

The UBESD also has scheduled a special board meeting Monday, when it will meet with representatives of the Oregon Department of Education to discuss criteria in hiring an interim superintendent to replace Ed Schumacher. The meeting starts at 5 p.m.

Superintendent Schumacher has begun implementing changes in the Alternative Education program to insure that Average Daily Membership (ADM) credits are properly credited and accounted for.

"We want to make sure that input for the year is accurate and retains its integrity throughout the process," he said.

The audit, prepared by the Pendleton firm of Dickey & Tremper, revealed serious discrepancies in ADM credit for several school districts who contract with UBESD for alternative education programs.

Discrepancies for the five districts amounted to $425,000 over the school years between 2001 and 2003.

Superintendent Don Ulrey of Baker City said, "We need to hold the ESD accountable. Their lack of action has been appalling and unbelievable."

Ulrey and his school board publicly called for the UBESD administration and five of its board members to resign.

Schumacher said new procedures have been implemented to insure all public contracting complies with state law. Only one contract is presently in the works, Schumacher said.

Schumacher said the director of alternative education, Lyle Mann, remains on administrative leave. Per board decision, Mann is to remain on leave until he agrees to resign or is fired.

A contract with Lenny Williams, who consults with the UBESD on special education programs, remains in effect. Schumacher has been directed by the board to find a way to end the contract.

The Education Workforce Development Committee has been gathering signatures to recall board members Rich Cason of Elgin, Don Starr of Summerville and Kelly Anderes of La Grande for the several months.

Anderes said she will resign if the signatures to place her name on the November ballot are validated.

She said the situation at the UBESD is "as bad as it looks."

Both Cason and Starr say they will contest the recall effort if the petition is placed on the ballot.

Ray Stinnett of the EWDC said it became easy to gather signatures after the fraud audit was released.

Cason, the present chairman, has been on the board for slightly more than a year. He said the situation at the district has started to improve and he wants to retain his at-large position.

"I want to see this thing through and correct it, see it done right," he said.

Union County Clerk Nellie Bogue Hibbert and Baker County Clerk Tami Green have 10 days to complete the certification process. The board members will then be notified of the results and be given five days to resign or submit a statement justifying their retention on the board.

If they choose to stay, their names will go on the Nov. 2 ballot.

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