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L.A. Trade-Tech Administrators Received $157,000 for Work They Failed to Justify, Investigation Finds

An undated image shows a sign for Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. (Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

An undated image shows a sign for Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. (Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Five years ago, the Los Angeles Community College District won one of its biggest federal grants: $19.2 million to help students gain training and skills for the fast-growing healthcare industry.

Los Angeles Trade-Technical College was selected to lead the effort on behalf of the district’s nine community colleges and industry partners. Trade-Tech President Laurence Frank assigned two of his vice presidents, Leticia Barajas and Kaneesha Tarrant, to supervise development of the program.

Now an internal district investigation prompted by a whistle-blower has concluded that the two administrators failed to justify more than $157,000 in payments they received between 2014 and 2017 from the U.S. Department of Labor grant. The extra work they said they did for the grant, which they claimed merited the payments, was in fact part of their regular college duties, according to a memo written by Arnold Blanshard, the district’s internal audit director.

The logs the administrators filled out provided “very general” descriptions of the work they said they did, and the wording was repeated each semester, the investigation found. They also failed to obtain all of the required approvals for the special assignments. Tarrant continued to receive grant money while on maternity leave. Barajas’ compensation increased even after the district hired a director to do most of the work she said she was doing.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.