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Lodi Unified School District board must explain any decision not to further investigate grade scandal

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Posted: Saturday, August 27, 2011 12:00 am

Lodi Unified School District Trustee Ken Davis has attempted to shoot the messengers — the News-Sentinel and investigator Donna Matties — instead of informing the public of details of the relationship between his foundation, Liberty High School and Humphreys College.

In a clear conflict of interest, Davis lobbied not to pay Matties for the work she performed. She was hired to look into Liberty High Principal Robert Rivas' changing of students' grades. Rivas apparently did it to assure the students would qualify for a special program allowing them to enter Humphreys College after they graduate.

Davis' Achievement Gap Education Foundation sponsors the program, and Matties discovered Davis spoke to Rivas before he changed the grades.

Tuesday, Davis urged fellow board members not to pay Matties' bill. No one on the board said a word about the conflict, but did OK the bill.

Regarding the News-Sentinel, Davis promised us an interview the week before last. We expected him to explain all this, but he reneged. When we kept digging, he lashed out at reporter Katie Nelson for contacting his donors. He says we caused his funding sources to dry up. Two sources cited on his website told us they never made contributions.

We still have questions and haven't given up finding answers. We would still like to talk to Davis on the record.

Matties admits an allegation of impropriety by Davis is hearsay by an unrevealed source. Without further authorization, the district won't pursue the issue.

Davis says he's blameless and just has kids at heart. That may prove true, or it may never be known.

Meanwhile, the board seems ready to brush this aside and get on with other business.

If that's what the board does, it certainly owes the public a very clear explanation of its decision.

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