December 21, 2014

USD 231 board censures member

Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
The USD 231 Board Of Education publicly censured veteran board

A copy of one of several checks the school district wrote to school board member James Repshire.

A copy of one of several checks the school district wrote to school board member James Repshire.

member James Repshire for violating a board ethics policy. Board members specifically cited the work his company, J. R. Electric, performed for the school district as the issue.
Board policy in effect at the time Repshire’s company was performing work for the district states “Avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest and refrain from using my board position for personal or partisan gain.”
Although the action of censure, an official statement of disapproval, will appear in the meeting minutes, it carries no legal weight and does not affect the member’s ability to remain on the board as a voting member.
To Rob Shippy, board member, Repshire violated this policy by accepting a little over $60,000 in payment from the district for work performed by his company J. R. Electric. Shippy stated that although Repshire’s actions may not be illegal, they are unethical, unacceptable and in clear violation of the board policy applicable at the time. Shippy declared he was not going to ignore this issue any longer and called for a vote of censure. It was approved by a vote of 4-3.  The three dissenting board members were Mary Herbert, Mark Grannell and Repshire.
As previously reported by The Gardner News, USD 231 audit reports indicate that during the school years beginning July 01, 2007 and ending June 30, 2010, the district paid $61,779 to J. R. Electric, a company owned by Repshire.  An additional $17,682 was paid to City Electric Supply, a company that employs Repshire as a salesperson, during the years beginning July 01, 2010 and ending June 30, 2013.
Although, the USD 231 audit for the school year ending June 30, 2010 indicates that $28,282 was paid to J. R. Electric for services to the district, a recently acquired payment vendor report lists James Repshire as the payee for the sum of $28,282.
District records indicate that the last payment made to J. R. Electric was Sept. 12, 2008 ,and the first payment made to directly to Repshire was on July 20, 2009.   Repshire declined via email to disclose the date J. R. Electric was dissolved.  It is unclear, at this exactly why the audit report and the vendor report do not match in regards to who was actually paid.  The audit report does explain this information was disclosed to them by Repshire on the annual conflict of interest questionnaire.

Comments

  1. Walter H. says:

    Completely unacceptable.

    Just because someone can use a lawyer to exploit a policy or statute does not make it right. Why do we accept this in our community?

    We hand out awards for character to our students and then this is the example we present as adults.

    I’m not sure what the greater issue is, Mr. Repshire believing there isn’t an issue here, or the citizens allowing it to not be an issue.

  2. Walter H. says:

    “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
    ― Elie Wiesel

    I believe Mr. Repshire is a liability to this school distraction and his situation will, without a doubt, continue to be a distraction until he resigns from our school board. As our district moves forward towards a more transparent and patron friendly direction, people like Mr. Repshire only slow down the process.

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