Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Update on Lumberton ISD Secret IOU’s to School Attorney

In a previous email about Lumberton ISD hidden grant money, I suggested that something funny was going on with the payments to the School Attorney. Specifically I suggested that the Administration, without the knowledge of the School Board, was writing IOU’s to the school attorney. The School Attorney stood up and completely denied any allegations.[2]
That means I have to show everyone my proof or else it is a he said she said thing.
Here is the proof:
I requested an LISD Open Records Request for all the payments to the School Attorney for the last 5 years.
What I discovered was that the School Attorney received regular monthly paychecks from LISD up until the very last payment he ever got from LISD, which was on January 6th, 2006[3]. Well, the problem is that the School Attorney served in a full capacity until he resigned on June 11th, 2010 and the School Board accepted his resignation on June 22nd, 2010[4]. So that means there is a gap of about 4 years where the School Attorney was NOT getting paid. Do you still believe that there is nothing fishy going on here? Obviously, based on the facts, there was some kind of strange financial deal going on. What it was we might never know, but the School Board did not know about it and when they found out, one of the school board members questioned if the Administration had been lying on the audit when they claimed they had no outstanding debts. The School Board worked something out in an executive session so we don’t get to know anything. The School Attorney resigned. He did not get any back pay because he never billed the school because he was told by the school he was not going to get anything. My guess is that whatever was going on he wanted to keep secret so he did not pursue getting back pay and just let it go. Also, the Administration official who did this strange agreement is no longer at Lumberton ISD and is now at another School District.
For further evidence, you can go to the online LISD Operating Fund Check Register[5] and see that, as far back at the check register goes (2008), the previous school attorney did not get paid. On the other hand, you can see at the online check register that the new school attorney immediately started getting monthly payments when he took over in 2010.
I DO NOT care to make a nice man look bad. I know the previous school attorney and he is a real nice guy and it pains me that I had to bring all of this out about him.
But I DO care about school administrations ending their shady financial dealings and I DO care that our elected School Boards have more control over their Administrations. That meant I had to bring out all this dirty laundry about the School Attorney's situation. This situation brings many questions like, if the School Attorney was not officially the school attorney and not getting paid, then every executive meeting he attended might have been illegal because only the official School Attorney can be at those meetings. Or was he getting paid some other way under the table? I know this previous attorney and I would don’t think that he would not have been involved in anything illegal because he is a very nice guy and I wish him well in retirement. But we JUST DON’T KNOW. That is the problem, we don’t know because of the secrecy of School Administration and the inability for School Boards to oversee them like they are elected to do.
Obviously there was something funny going on behind the scenes with the School Attorney payments and the School Board SHOULD have known about it. They did not know about it and that is the point of all of this. What else does this, and other School Boards across Texas, not know about their School Administration’s financial practices?
School Financial Practices need to be reformed and elected School Boards need to legally have more oversight over the School Administration’s dealing.
Thankfully Lumberton ISD has a few new School Board members and they are cracking down on all of these problems from the past. They just aren't really coming out about it all so that there is no bad press for the school. but the people need to know the truth because it is their tax money at stake.

Lumberton ISD Superintendent Dr. Sims needs to come out and clarify what is going on here.
David Bellow

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