A hearing was held in Sisney’s court case on Monday, August 15, 2011. The board ladies’ attorney, Phyllis Walta, and the school district’s attorney, Bo Rainey, appeared. No one appeared for plaintiff Jim Sisney.
The judge struck the pretrial conference, said he would rule on the pending motions, and is considering sanctions against Sisney.
Sisney is the plaintiff in this lawsuit. He filed the complaints. This failure to appear gives the impression that his attempt to intimidate through litigation is coming to an end, especially in light of recent embarrassing events: the audit showing that his accusations were false and his resignation from his superintendent position at Sperry Public Schools.
It has been three years since this controversy first showed up in the press. Maybe we’re finally near the end. Will William Swaim of the Broken Arrow Ledger have as much to say about the outcome of this lawsuit and its implications as he had about Sisney’s secret $250,000+ stipends? That is, nothing at all?
Mr. Swaim was highly critical of the school board for awarding Superintendent Dr. Gary Gerber a $14,000 bonus at the end of the school year. He tried to make it sound like the board had just decided to give the money away on a whim, but in fact the bonus and its criteria were clearly stipulated in Dr. Gerber’s contract. He was entitled to up to $14,000; the amount would be based on his performance. Since the board gave him a good evaluation, it would have been unethical to withhold the bonus.
Dr. Gerber’s bonus was earned, defined clearly in his contract, budgeted, and approved by the board. Not so for the money Jim Sisney handed out to a very few select administrators. Over the course of three years, he gave away over $250,000 – none of which was provided for in any of their contracts or budgeted, and none of which was approved by – or even communicated to – the school board. Yet when Mr. Swaim wrote his opinion article mentioning the incorrect bidding procedures found by the audit (but not mentioning that all of the accusations of wrongdoing were found to be lies), he completely ignored the $250,000 in secret stipends given away by Sisney. I would like him to explain why he does not feel compelled to object to the whopping stipend total, after being so adamant that the board was wrong in awarding Dr. Gerber his bonus exactly as specified in his contract. If he was as concerned about the school’s budget as he claimed to be, why did he not appear to notice that Dr. Gerber’s bonus was already included in the budget for that year, while Sisney’s stipends could not have been included because the board had never heard of them? I would also like him to explain why he has not objected to the secrecy of these payments, after all his criticism of the District for following confidentiality laws, all his calls for Transparency, and his defense of his newspaper’s unethical actions in publishing a falsified audit report from an unknown source. Mr. Swaim’s editorializing on this subject has been not merely unprofessional, biased, and mean – it has been staggeringly hypocritical.
Ms. Nour Habib has published an opinion article on the Broken Arrow ledger regarding journalistic objectivity. I think Mr. Swaim should read it.