“… the agency was not following internal policies for school bus inspections, was inaccurately tracking the inspections and was not working off a complete list of vehicles to be inspected.”
I’ll leave the entirety of the report to you, but one aspect of it that’s now blown up relates to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). You can read an exceptional article about it on Say Anything Blog. As you’ll see on page 2 of the Audit Report, Gallion’s office mentions that:
“DPI advertises 100% of school buses are inspected which doesn’t agree to the approved policy.”
What the report is referring to is the fact that DPI’s website showed (notice the past tense) that:
“Every year the ND Highway Department inspects all district owned school buses in every district to ensure they remain safe to transport our most precious cargo.” (Emphasis Added)
But the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s current internal policy isn’t one of 100% at all. The only time 100% of the buses in a district are inspected is when there’s no mechanic on staff. If a mechanic is on staff, then 50% of the district’s buses are inspected— as explained on page 3 of the report. Regardless, page 5 tells us that inspections were not performed according to internal policies for the 2017-2018 school year.
As you might imagine, our current head of DPI, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, took offense to Gallion’s report. This resulted in DPI issuing a press release of their own which states in part:
“Baesler said the Department of Public Instruction does not ‘advertise that inspections are done on 100 percent of school buses,’ as Gallion claimed in a press release about the audit report.”
You’ll notice earlier that I said DPI’s website “showed” what Baesler is now denying. That’s because DPI updated the website so that it no longer shows such a claim. But the State Auditor’s office caught this screenshot beforehand:
DPI spokesman Dale Wetzel didn’t exactly do the department any favors in his back and forth with Rob Port of Say Anything Blog. Wetzel is reported to have said:
“We didn’t change the website to turn around and stick him. We believe the original statement [on the website] was correct.”
“This is something that we ask school districts do. That’s what that language is meant to convey. It isn’t to say that we guarantee that 100 percent of the school buses are inspected. We don’t know that to be true. We aren’t going to say something that we don’t know to be true. The Highway Patrol knows whether it’s true or not.”
Seriously? This is undoubtedly one of those “Did he really just say that?” moments. It’s blatantly evident what DPI’s website said. How can Wetzel claim they meant to convey anything else? It either defies logic or they’re just that bad at communicating with the public.
It might be easier to believe the website was changed solely for reasons of accuracy if Baesler hadn’t come out with a denial of their ever having said such a thing. But the reality is that’s not the way it played out. Instead, our very own Superintendent of Public Instruction basically tried to make State Auditor Josh Gallion out to be the liar. And when his office released the screenshot of what DPI’s website said, we found out who it was that is less than honest— and it wasn’t Gallion.
Is this all really that surprising though? Not really. Two years ago we published an article showing Baesler as the “Great Deceiver” in relation to her being party to rebranding the Common Core State Standards as North Dakota standards. We even proved the plagiarism here. When it came time for a “new” testing vendor, we predicted there wouldn’t really be anything new about them at all. We exposed that reality in October of 2017, when it was announced that the bid for providing North Dakota’s state testing had gone to the same company that had previously provided the Common Core assessments. This led us to renew our call — yes, we’ve asked more than once — for the State Superintendent “to be transparent and honest”. So much for that, I guess.
And now, to make matters worse for Baesler and DPI, they send out their spin doctor — Dale Wetzel — to provide cover. And in doing so, he actually went on to call the way Gallion handled the report “unprofessional” and “ridiculous”. You simply can’t make this stuff up.
What we have here is yet another example of why we need an independent State Auditor. If you haven’t followed Audit the Swamp on Facebook and signed up to help them in their referral effort to restore the State Auditor’s authority to initiate performance audits, you should do so now. Their petition was approved on Wednesday and are now available for download and circulation.
PLEASE LIKE & SHARE!