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Schools Lawsuit Settled in O.C.

Santa Ana district will pay a fraction of the fees claimed by a firm hired to oversee expansion.

April 10, 2004|Joel Rubin | Times Staff Writer

The Santa Ana school district and the construction company it sued for alleged gross mismanagement of an ambitious expansion program have settled the case out of court, officials announced Thursday.

The district hired Del Terra Construction Group in 2000 after voters approved a $145-million bond measure to fund construction, modernizations and additions at 31 campuses.

School trustees fired and sued Del Terra in February 2003 to break the contract, complaining of construction delays and escalating costs.

Under the settlement, trustees said, Santa Ana Unified will pay $600,000 of the $7 million in fees the company said it was still due.

"They billed for a great deal of money for work that we felt they did not do," said Trustee Audrey Yamagata-Noji. The settlement "shows that they didn't deserve any more and that they deserved to be terminated."

Both Yamagata-Noji and Board President Rob Richardson are part of a new board majority that has criticized the previous majority for not considering alternative construction management firms and, in their view, haphazardly adding projects to the construction program.

"The [settlement] will allow the district to move forward and fully devote its time and resources to providing quality educational facilities," Richardson said.

Santa Ana, one of the state's largest districts, has since hired a new firm, Capital Program Management, to reassess and complete the now scaled-back construction program.

Del Terra President Luis Rojas did not return calls seeking comment.

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