April 19, 2014

Requests reveal possible ethics issues at USD 231

Walter Hermeck
Gardner
Recently there has been a bit of local conversation concerning the update in the USD 231 Facility Usage Policy. Gary Diener, director of operations went on record with The Gardner News saying; “The goal of the proposed changes is to ensure that the usage system is fair and equitable.” I recently received a tip from a local source that district facilities were not being used in a fair and equitable manner.
Acting on this tip I requested the documents through Kansas Open Records Act that I would need to validate this tip. Some were available, some didn’t exist. After examination of these documents and further request Debbie Hickman, district patron, and I came to the conclusion that there appeared to be multiple improprieties occurring with this situation.
Once we gathered all of the documentation; documents, news article, emails, we then decided to speak with district staff to air our concerns and ask them to address our suspected improprieties.
I placed several calls to Leann Northway, the director of communications and received no response. I left a message on both her office phone and her cell phone, called several times and emailed. I received no response on this matter. Debbie and I had thought it would be fair to give the USD an opportunity to respond before any of our findings go to print.
Our view is that we have, at the minimum an ethics problem within our district. Our goal is to be ethical, honest and open, and we ask the same of those public employees of our school district.
After discussing this issue we have decided to give what we have to the Gardner News and let the public be the judge. It is unfortunate that the district would not return our messages and comment.
Moving forward we would hope that with future stories they will comment when given the opportunity.

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