Voters in Alum Rock Union Elementary School District have passed $444 million in construction bonds since 2008. But the district’s inability to manage its bond-funded projects has led to a damning state audit, an investigation by the county District Attorney’s Office and a financial takeover by the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Raymond Mueller, a parent who monitors two of the past three bond measures as chair of Alum Rock’s Citizens’ Oversight Committee, says he unearthed yet another symptom of dysfunction. The committee’s bylaws were apparently penned in a way that undermines its state-mandated authority to keep the district’s bond spending in check. It’s basically a watchdog with no teeth. At least, so says Anton Jungherr, a member of the California League of Bond Oversight Committees (CalBOC), who spoke at Mueller’s committee meeting Monday night in his individual capacity as a lifelong school administrator. “The committee cannot meet when they want to meet, the committee members can be removed for any reason by the school board, they can’t have subcommittees and they can’t talk to vendors, staff or contractors,” Jungherr tells Fly. “So I don’t see how they could be independent, which is required by law.” The alarming assessment puts the volunteer oversight body in something of an existential crisis, says Mueller, who called for a special meeting next week to possibly start rewriting the bylaws. But Alum Rock’s newly appointed board president and longtime trustee, Esau Ruiz Herrera, seems far less concerned, if not dismissive. “I think Anton spent a lot of time noting that he’s not an attorney, and then proceeded to offer a legal analysis,” he says of Jungherr’s comments. “I don’t see any compliance issues at all.” Fly reached out to Alum Rock’s outsourced attorney, Luis Saenz, who reportedly authored the bylaws in question, but he declined to comment. “He’s very evasive,” trustee Andrés Quintero says of Saenz. “That’s why I called for the termination of his contract.” Jungherr, who co-founded CalBOC with David Ginsborg, says it’s all too common for school districts to undermine citizen watchdog groups, which, according to a 2017 report by the Little Hoover Commission, have overseen a combined $138 billion in local facilities bonds in California since 2000.