The final audit has been released, including the two items that had previously been withheld.
Item 1 found that the three board members requested as individuals, not as the board, that law firm RFR investigate Sisney. A request like this must be done by a governing board, since it’s legal work that would obligate the District to pay for it. There was already a board-approved contract for RFR in place, but it did not specifically allow for requests by individual board members. To meet the requirements of Open Meetings laws, the board needed to address this with all five members, in an open board meeting or in executive session.
It is understandable that the three board members did not want the other two to be aware of their requested investigation, because Stephanie Updike always immediately blabbed to Sisney. In addition, Sisney made it impossible for the board members to make any requests he didn’t like. At the time, he and the board president controlled the board meeting agenda, and he refused to include items the three board members requested. If he didn’t allow it on the agenda, they couldn’t discuss it in a board meeting. Due to Open Meetings laws, they couldn’t discuss it outside of a meeting either. In this way, he exploited Open Meetings laws and the board’s own policies to shut them out from handling important District business. Important District business like getting rid of an insubordinate, combative, corrupt superintendent.
The audit states that the matter has been referred to the State Attorney General. It’s possible that it has already been reviewed. Nothing has been reported about whether any action will be taken by the AG, but since this item has been released without action, it seems likely that the board members have been cleared.
Item 3 found that Sisney signed a 5-year Windstream contract without board knowledge or approval in 2007. At the time that contract started, Windstream started filing for significantly increased subsidies from the federally-funded E-Rate program. That year, Windstream sent Sisney and his brother on an all-expense-paid trip to the Final Four in Atlanta. In 2009, not knowing about the secret 2007 contract and thinking it was time to re-bid the previous 2004 contract, the District got competitive bids from several vendors. Upon discovering the 2007 Windstream contract with three remaining years, they upgraded it instead of considering other vendors’ quotes.
Sisney told the auditors that Wes Smithwick handled the negotiations with Windstream. Smithwick disagreed,saying that he helped with the E-Rate process but did not handle the negotiations.
Sisney told the auditors that his friend Ed Bryson, a Windstream employee, gave him his two tickets because he (Ed) and his wife were not able to attend. The Windstream documents contradict this, listing Broken Arrow Schools and the Sisney brothers as customers who would be guests at the event. This may be the basis for Sisney’s defense on the bribery and conspiracy charges. If he can show that he reasonably believed that …oh, never mind. He should have known better than to even look like he was taking a gift from a vendor.
It has been a long wait for this audit. Unlike the first audit, which was an incoherent jumble of irrelevant ramblings, gossip, and unsupported accusations (some word for word from Sisney’s court documents), the final audit’s conclusions are reasonable, thorough, and consistent with information available to the public. Notably absent is the input of Representative Mike Reynolds, who was so vocal about the release of the first audit. Also absent is hearsay and alleged “evidence” volunteered to the auditor and AG by Sisney supporters including former board members Stephanie Updike and Terry Stover, and Representative Mike Ritze.
The audit states that the Windstream information came from Sisney’s lawsuit against Air Assurance, the three board members, an optometrist, and the District. The defense for the three board members found an email from Lee Sisney to Jim referring to Windstream hosting them at the Final Four. Since this email turned up in the forensic analysis of Sisney’s computer after his termination, it is unlikely that anyone knew about the Windstream contract and trip in 2008 when the board fired him. It’s not listed in the official reasons for possible termination.
You can read the audit here.