Archive for Thursday, February 22, 2007

Letter: Johnson off base

February 22, 2007

It has come to my attention that fellow board member Randy Johnson has called the Johnson County District Attorney's Office to report what he apparently feels is unethical activity on my part and has requested my removal from the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education. I thought I might take this opportunity to set the record straight in case you receive any questions.

In December when we attended the Kansas Association of School Board convention, the hotel charged an extra $40 ($20 per night) because my son and husband stayed in my room. They attended the convention because I am on the KASB Board of Directors and we are encouraged to bring our spouses to the President's Banquet on Sunday afternoon. KASB pays for my dinner as well as the dinners of my family members.

In January after reviewing the bill and credit card statement Superintendent Sharon Zoellner, her assistant Wendy Denham and I discussed whether or not I needed to reimburse the district for the room fee, and I volunteered to pay the extra $40. I said I would settle this cost at the same time that I reimbursed the district for my flight to the Federal Relations Conference in January-February 2007. When I go to this conference I usually spend a few days of my personal vacation time, either before or after the conference, with my mother who lives in Pennsylvania. Wendy determines the cost of a direct, non-stop, flight to Washington, D.C. and the cost of a direct/indirect flight to my final destination in Pennsylvania. I always reimburse the district for the difference in cost between the two flights.

I returned from my trip on Sunday, Feb. 4, and on Friday, Feb. 9, I wrote the district two checks. One was for the $40 I volunteered to pay and the other was for the difference in the cost for my flight. As you recall the board voted to pay my flight and hotel costs for the FRN conference. KASB paid for the conference and I will pay for my meals and any other costs associated with the trip. Although Randy's request for credit card receipts and my reimbursement to the district occurred in the same week, it was coincidental. The reimbursement would have occurred without any request for credit card statements just like it has every other time I have traveled.

I am truly concerned that Randy has seen fit to question my ethics and my behavior as a board member without first talking to me. I have always maintained the highest level of integrity and will continue to follow district procedures that apply to board members. I am further concerned that in making these accusations about me, he has implied that district staff would have allowed unethical behavior on my part.

I want to take this opportunity to state that our staff is some of the most ethical and morally upright people I have ever worked with. I believe Randy owes them a sincere apology for his actions and behavior.

Sandra L. Thierer
USD 232 Board of Education

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