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Did Top ABCUSD Officials Alter AMN Key Solutions’ Bond Contract Without School Board Approval?


BREAKING: ABCUSD officials will not televise tonight’s crucial Study Session that includes discussions with AMN Key Solutions. The decision is at the sole discretion of the Board President or the Superintendent.



May 29, 2018, 4:51 p.m.

In another long line of questionable actions by top ABCUSD officials led by Board President Soo Yoo and Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu, an ongoing HMG-CN investigation into the district’s bond public relations firm AMN Key Solutions has learned that, contrary to what was told to ABCUSD Board members, the contract awarded to AMN included additional money for expenses.

Hews Media Group-Community News discovered the addition after obtaining the Fee Summary through a public records request.

The additional $1,800 per month “Reimbursement of Expenses clause in the Fee Summary” increased the contract to $7,300 per month, only $700 per month less than the much larger, more professional, and more prominent second bidder, San Francisco based TBWB.

Even more alarming, the additional $1,800 was not on the March 20, 2018 board meeting agenda, which Board members rely on for making decisions.


Page from the agenda showing $5,500 monthly fee.



The discovery of the expense clause strongly indicates that top officials at ABCUSD added the item later without Board approval.

The revelation comes on the heels of another HMG-CN article that documented ABCUSD officials were aware AMN falsely claimed working for Orange Unified’s 2016 bond, when AMN worked for a political action committee that supported Orange Unified’s bond effort.

Similar to the expense reimbursement, ABCUSD officials did not inform Board members of the false information.

The entire AMN fiasco could have been avoided when Board member Chris Apodaca asked for the vote to be delayed for a few days.

Apodaca, along with VP Leticia Mendoza and Clerk Olga Rios were concerned after they read an exclusive HMG-CN investigative article on AMN that chronicled a questionable website, complete lack of social media presence, and troubling conflict of interest relationships.

But President Soo Yoo and Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu argued forcefully, and, after several violations of Roberts Rules of Order by President Yoo, rammed the vote through for approval.

After the meeting, sources told HMG-CN that President Yoo was overheard saying she “did not read the article.”

In addition, during the AMN contract discussion, VP Mendoza and Board member Ernie Nishii verified the $5,500 amount on the agenda specifically asking ABC CFO Toan Nguyen if the AMN contract was all inclusive.

In answering both Board members, Nguyen said that the $5,500, “included travel fees and other expenses.”

Nishii asked, “are we paying the travel costs because I don’t see that in the contract.”

Nguyen answered, “the $5,500 fee covers all of that.”




VP Mendoza also question the $5,500 fee asking, “the $5,500 includes travel correct?”

Nguyen once again confirmed, “the $5,500 covers all costs, that is what we will pay them on a monthly basis.”






When the investigation found the additional expense, CFO Nguyen was forced to confirm the addition, “the $1,800 is not part of her contract. This has been negotiated out. In order to control cost, the District will pay expenses directly to the vendors. Any other expenses must be pre-approved by the District.”

The admission adds to the already explosive revelations concerning AMN and owner Ann Nock.

HMG-CN reported last week that Nock claimed she worked for Orange Unified, when in reality she worked for a political action committee that supported Orange Unified’s bond.

At the March 20, 2018 Board meeting, Toan Nguyen was heard saying, “we had very positive reference checks for AMN. To me, a factor in this group is that she worked recently with Orange Unified.”






Sitting at the dais was Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu, who told HMG-CN that she knew that Nock worked for the committee.

Yet when Nguyen stated Orange Unified, Dr. Sieu did not correct him to say “she worked for the committee.”

Ernie Nishii said, “we want to have something successful, and they [AMN] represented Orange.”





Once again Dr. Sieu did not correct Nishii to say “she worked for the committee.”

Finally, President Yoo spoke about AMN, “during the NSBA meeting I met up with the Orange Superintendent, I think the fact that [AMN] worked for Orange that’s really good step for us to follow.”

Once again Dr. Sieu, who sits immediately to the left of President Yoo, did not correct Yoo to say “she worked for the committee.”