Ex-Natomas school official Harding avoids jail
By Terri Hardy - thardy@sacbee.com
The Sacramento Bee
July 9, 2008

A disgraced former facilities chief for Natomas public schools will do
community service – no jail time – for directing contracts to a company in
which he had a financial stake.

And although prosecutors are pushing for Frank C. Harding Jr. to pay
$32,533 in restitution to the Natomas Unified School District, two top
officials testified Tuesday at his sentencing hearing that they don't want
the cash back.

"The district is not and will not seek restitution," said Superintendent Steve
Farrar before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary Ransom...

In a letter of support for Harding submitted to the court,
[board member]
Burns complained about the district's high legal costs because of
the District Attorney's Office probe into the matter, Steed said.

"This now seems like a contradiction that they're not interested in
any restitution," Steed said.

... Steed said his office would subpoena the district to find out its
legal costs.

...A Bee investigation in April 2007 revealed that while in the district's
employ, Harding awarded eight no-bid contracts totaling $433,500 to the
firm he helped found – Educational Facilities Program Management.

Harding left the company in 2004 after accepting the job in Natomas. He
sold the company to his friend and employee Michael Cannon for $32,533.

Cannon paid for the business over time, writing checks to Harding from
March 2004 to June 2005 for that amount. At the same time, Harding was
awarding district contracts to Cannon.

In doing so, Harding violated Government Code Section 1090, which
prohibits public officials from having any financial interest in any contract
made in their official capacity. The law requires no wrongful intent.

Steed said that with this conviction, the law allows any taxpayer to ask the
court to nullify the previous eight contracts with Educational Facilities
Program Management. It could mean the district might collect the amount
of those contracts, $433,500, in restitution.

That would mean seeking the money from
Cannon, who the district
currently employs as its facilities chief. Cannon got the job when
Harding left the district in 2007 to take a similar post for Elk Grove
Unified School District.

Harding started his Elk Grove job on May 1, 2007. He was fired 13 weeks
later for "dishonest behavior."

His dismissal followed another Bee investigation that found the degrees
Harding listed on his résumé may have come from a diploma mill.
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Carrie Clark speaks:

White Chalk Crime is the Real reason our schools are failing across the US.  
Nobody seems to care!  Many thanks to The Bee's calling for restitution by
Natomas schools for this DOUBLE conflict-of-interest case, as the villain's
replacement was his sidekick! Few corrupt school administrators ever  do
time for their misdeeds.  Few Boards ever report what they find; departments
of education are complicitous.  A growing number of educators are trying to
alert our nation to the real reason $.40 on every dollar does not make it past
district offices, and we take the hits for daring to defend the children's future.
America's dirty little secret can be read at www.endteacherabuse.org or in a
primer on school corruption at www.WhiteChalkCrime.com.  Read it and weep!

Carrie Clark, California Healthy Workplace Advocates& National Association
for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse
Corruption in Schools
Defining "corruption"

Political corruption is the
use of power for personal
gain, and includes public
servants who use their
power to advance
themselves personally at
the expense of the public.  
This isn't limited to
financial gain.  Corruption
includes silencing public
debate about one's
actions, smearing others
to increase one's own
power, and appointing
officials for their personal
loyalty rather than their
loyalty to the public.
Corruption in schools

Corruption in courts

Public Entity Attorneys

Incompetence or
Was Richard Nixon

Yes, in my opinion, even
though he didn't line his
own pockets.  It would
have been better if he'd
been satisfied with simple
monetary gain, rather
than damaging the
American political system
to protect his power.  
Obstruction of justice is
corruption in my book.
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