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L.A. school district picks FBI veteran as inspector general

L.A. school district picks FBI veteran as inspector general
The FBI's William Stern will be moving from The Hague to here, L.A. school district headquarters, west of downtown, to serve as the district's inspector general. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles school district has selected an FBI veteran stationed in Europe as its next inspector general. William Stern is currently the chief attache to the Netherlands and to Europol, the European Union’s police agency.

His contract will pay $179,900 per year and run from Jan. 31 through June 30, 2020. His start date is delayed because of current work commitments and the need to relocate from The Hague, L.A. Unified general counsel David Holmquist said Tuesday. Stern’s U.S. residence is in Nevada.

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“He’s well qualified for the position and we’re grateful to have him join the LAUSD team,” Holmquist said.

The job of the inspector general is to prevent and ferret out waste, fraud and abuse among district employees and contractors. The office conducts both confidential investigations and audits that are made public.

Stern’s pending arrival brings an apparent end to months of turmoil in the inspector general’s office.

According to his resume, the new school district watchdog started with the FBI in 1999, working successively as a special agent on white-collar crime, a supervisory special agent on financial crimes and an attache to the United Kingdom, where he helped safeguard the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He then served as special agent in charge of national security within the state of Nevada.

Prior to the FBI, he worked as a senior auditor for the Internal Revenue Service in Los Angeles.

Stern will be joining an office that had been on a roller-coaster ride.

First, Deputy Inspector General Frank Cabibi resigned following complaints that he made racially and sexually tinged comments. At least two lower level employees also faced discipline, according to sources.

Then in June, the Board of Education deadlocked 3-3 on rehiring Cabibi’s boss, Inspector General Ken Bramlett, who’d held the job for five years. Bramlett needed four votes for a contract extension. The seventh board member, Ref Rodriguez, was under investigation by Bramlett’s office and recused himself from voting.

Rodriguez resigned from the board in July after pleading guilty to campaign money-laundering charges.

A short-term extension for Bramlett for a time seemed likely but then fell through.

The school board then arranged for a former inspector general, Jess Womack, to come out of retirement. But shortly after he accepted the job, Womack abruptly stepped aside.

Deputy Inspector General Austin Onwualu has been managing the office and will continue in that role until Stern’s arrival.

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