What set Sisney off in April 2008? He claims that in April 2008 he tried to warn the board about the fund balance being low, and says that the CFO lied about the fund balance in her report, providing figures in the normal range. That month, several Air Assurance bills came in at once. They were for legitimate, approved work, but they had been delayed because of two things: Air Assurance had just switched to a new computer system, and the ice storm had delayed District operations. So Sisney now had a low fund balance, which apparently only he knew about, and a bunch of bills that he didn’t anticipate.
That’s when he claims he started his “investigation” of the conspiracy between Air Assurance and the board members. The CFO abruptly left for Tulsa Public Schools, and Sisney began telling people that Air Assurance had been overbilling, billing for work not done, doing unnecessary work, and charging the District for work done for random optometrists.
The audit shows that everything Air Assurance had done was proper and legitimate, and the District had budgeted for it. So why was Sisney so worked up about the bills? Why was it even an issue for him? Did it maybe have something to do with the missing money from the reserve fund?
Sisney had gotten so combative that at the end of April, Maryanne Flippo brought up her concerns about his behavior to the other board members. Her email mentioned his refusal to speak to certain board members, refusal to answer their questions, and unprofessional behavior when anyone questioned him or his staff, or when he felt someone disagreed with him or had addressed him in an imperfect tone. Ms. Flippo suggested addressing his disrespectful, insubordinate behavior in his evaluation.
So why the pretense that Air Assurance and the board members had been cheating the District? Why did he have to come up with a scapegoat? Was it to have a handy excuse for the missing money? It certainly wasn’t a sincere suspicion; he refused to meet with Air Assurance to see their records showing nothing wrong (as confirmed by the audit).
What had Sisney so touchy? Was he hiding something? What was he up to?
We know that Sisney disregarded District policies on several occasions. He hired two law firms without board approval, tried to hire a lawyer for himself at the District’s expense (and had a non-board-approved PO for $5000 with him), negotiated and signed the secret Windstream contract, and gave large bonuses (over $250,000 in total) to a few employees without board approval. What else was he up to in BAPS’ finances while he was superintendent? Who gave him the $5000 PO for the lawyer against District policy?
Why did he claim the fund balance was low in April 2008, contrary to the CFO’s report? Where did the money go, and why was Sisney the only one who knew about it? Why wouldn’t he answer board members’ questions about financial issues, or let them discuss these issues – including the reduced reserve fund – in board meetings?
Maybe the CFO didn’t know the fund balance was low. Had Sisney been secretly dipping into the reserve fund, which is meant to be cash maintained at a certain level in case of unforeseen expenses? Given his proven cavalier attitude about laws, policies, and our money, there is no reason to put it past him. Is that why he freaked out and started pointing fingers when the Air Assurance bills arrived? What set him off in April 2008?
Sisney’s email to all District employees, in which he accuses the former CFO of “misstating the fund balance”, is here.
The 8/18/2008 Ledger article that lists some of the agenda items Sisney blocked – including a review of the 2008-2009 budget and an explanation of why the reserve fund was reduced – is here.