Note: This article was written by ROBIN READER (612) and was originally published on her website Broken Arrow Forum on September 19, 2010, and reappears here on this blog with her permission.
Three news stories on the BA audit came out on Friday and Saturday. There’s something we can learn from each of them.
Details on each of the articles are below, but here’s the quick summary of new info confirmed:
1) Bill Miller was never interviewed. The auditor never tried, and lied to her boss by stating that Miller refused to cooperate;
2) Reynolds had access to, or was involved in composing, internal emails in the auditor’s office;
3) Reynolds provided the preliminary audit notes to the media, leading them to believe it was an actual “draft audit”;
4) Sherri Combs objected to the removal of hearsay from her audit, even though she had not uncovered any evidence to support these “findings”;
5) Many of the accusations provided to the auditor are shown not to be valid concerns to be investigated, but merely baseless attempts to make certain people look bad.
Broken Arrow Ledger: Special auditor takes issue with removed items, 9/17/2010
The Broken Arrow Ledger reported that the special auditor, Sherri Combs, sent an email to Ricky Branch on August 9, 2010, listing several items that had been removed from her audit report – the one that was to be presented to BA Schools. This was 3 days before Reynolds’ press conference on August 12, in which he stated his concerns that the audit would be “watered down”, and listed the very same points that were in Combs’ email.
Either he received a copy of the email, or he was involved in development the points for Combs to put in her email. Either way, clearly this type of involvement in an audit is improper.
The article quotes Burrage extensively, covering his point of view fairly and comprehensively. Thanks to Ms. Habib for such a balanced and informative article. Some of the rumors that Burrage debunks are Gerber moved an employee’s office to a closet in order to humiliate her; the board improperly changed the scope of an independent audit; and Gerber “intercepting” documents requested by the auditor. Also reported is the astonishing revelation that the auditor did not try to call Bill Miller for an interview. This is especially striking in light of the statements in her notes that give the impression that they came from Miller. Apparently the closest she came to contacting him was driving by his house.
The Ledger online mediator has not been as balanced. No comments submitted by Jolie or 612 were published.
Tulsa World: Impartiality of Broken Arrow Schools’ auditor questioned, 9/18/2010
The Tulsa World reported what appears to be the same email, but gives the date as April 19, and the recipient as Michelle Day, not Ricky Branch. It could be the same or a similar email that she forwarded to Branch on August 9.
Among the things that were taken out of the audit because no evidence could be found, they were not in scope, and/or they were not violations of any kind: board meeting minutes altered after they were approved; Sisney being told not to communicate using school resources; the board improperly changing the scope of the independent audit.
It confirms the Ledger’s report that Miller was not interviewed, saying the Combs had first tried to contact him by dropping by his house. She never tried to call him, either before or after her drive-by. Yet she led Burrage to believe Miller refused to talk with her.
Some commenters on the TW site want to convince us that attempting to contact someone solely by driving their house is perfectly reasonable, and they do not have a problem with her intentionally ignoring vital information and lying to her boss. I doubt that they have managed to convince themselves.
Fox 23: BA Schools Audit – 09/17/10
An audit of Broken Arrow Schools alleges wrongdoing by school board and contractor
The Fox 23 article is several weeks behind. They are reporting the preliminary audit document as if it just came out, and is actually audit results, with the inaccurate subheading, “An audit of Broken Arrow Schools alleges wrongdoing by school board and contractor.”
There isn’t much new here except that it states that Reynolds was the one who provided the audit notes to the Fox 23, confirming Burrage’s accusation. In addition, Reynolds provided Fox 23 with internal emails between school officials.
The article incorrectly states that Sisney filed a defamation lawsuit against the schools after he was terminated. The defamation lawsuit was filed BEFORE he was terminated, and was against board members, the owners of Air Assurance, and an eye doctor. He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school district after he was terminated. It was dismissed at Sisney’s request, after he had to be forced to answer questions, provide evidence, and show up at his deposition, where he admitted he had no evidence. Fox 23 should have reported this if they were going to bring up Sisney’s lawsuits.