The Dallas Independent School District has had several issues in recent years that have made it the target of whistleblower lawsuits. In the most recent case, the district’s chief auditor finds himself under performance review after he flagged millions of dollars’ worth of overpayments in school construction projects.
That auditor, Steven Martin, was hired to his position in 2019, and soon after published results of two audits of school construction projects in which he found potentially $300,000 in overpayments on contracts worth $1.2 million. In one of those audits, he asked the district to refer the matter to the Dallas district attorney for a criminal investigation.
He is also currently reviewing nine more contracts with potential overpayments of $1.7 million, and suspects employees in the district’s maintenance department may have set up a years-long bid-rigging system that may have resulted in up to $67 million in overpayments spread out over hundreds of contracts.
That maintenance department has since been disbanded—the district said many individuals cited in the audits were no longer employed by the district. The district also made referrals to law enforcement as suggested.
But then, in January, the district’s audit committee proposed a measure where any fraud of less than $250,000 would go to the district’s Office of Professional Standards, rather than being sent to Martin’s office. The audit committee then put Martin under performance review, and his staff on peer review, two years ahead of when these reviews would have been scheduled to take place. Martin was forced to defend himself in front of a school board meeting.
Martin insinuated his treatment could constitute whistleblower retaliation, and the optics for this with the district having just overpaid contracts by millions are poor. It remains to be seen how the case will play out.
If you believe you have been the victim of any sort of whistleblower retaliation, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group for representation.