Who’s Who in Sisney’s Attack

(latest update:  June 3, 2013, at 10:35 pm)

Air Assurance (owners: Rampey, Mike and Narissa)

  • Served BA Schools as the primary HVAC vendor for 15 years
  • Donated to the school system generously
  • Were falsely accused by Sisney in April 2008 of overcharging, double-billing, billing for work not done, and doing unnecessary work
  • Terminated service to BA Schools in May 2008 after Sisney repeatedly refused to meet with Mike Rampey to discuss the alleged billing issues behind Sisney’s public accusations that Air Assurance was cheating the District
  • Provided proof that Sisney’s claims were false in Spring 2008, months before Sisney included the same accusations in his lawsuits and news interviews; held a press conference showing the proof to the public
  • Were sued by Sisney for defamation and interfering with Sisney’s employment contract (charges were subsequently dismissed)
  • Stored documents unrelated to the Broken Arrow HVAC work in a storage unit; were implicated in media stories of committing arson in an attempt to destroy evidence when a fire started in another part of the storage facility but did not reach their unit. No records for services to BA Schools were missing; they were kept elsewhere anyway
  • Were never interviewed by Sherri Combs in the now-discarded biased audit
  • Were shown by the Jones audit to have conducted business with BA Schools in a fair, professional, ethical, and legal manner, and to have kept excellent records

Beagles, Brian

  • Assistant Superintendent at Broken Arrow Schools from 2003 – 2009
  • Received Superintendent Stipends
  • Worked with Sisney in Bartlesville Public Schools before both moved to Broken Arrow Schools
  • Followed Sisney to Sperry Public Schools after Sisney was fired from Broken Arrow. Sisney created the position of Assistant Superintendent in order to hire Beagles. The Sperry District has about 1,200 students, compared with Broken Arrow’s 16,000
  • Replaced Sisney as Superintendent of Sperry Schools when Sisney resigned in June 2011

Bethell, Bob

  • Former Metro Editor for the Broken Arrow Ledger
  • Wrote misleading stories covering Sisney’s termination; included hearsay and quotes from Sisney supporters while omitting important facts that would have explained the three board members’ actions and cleared up the misconceptions Sisney generated

Bilby, Mark

  • Director of Purchasing for Broken Arrow Schools
  • Received Superintendent Stipends
  • Was responsible for administering the bidding process in accordance with state laws
  • Was responsible for issuing and managing purchase orders, including the annual blanket purchase orders Sisney claimed he “discovered” the “wrongful” use of (after 5 years of getting board approval for them) for work done by Air Assurance, and including the purchase order Sisney had on hand when he sought to contract an attorney with the District without board knowledge or approval
  • Was not implicated by Sisney at any time in Sisney’s claims that District employees illegally and intentionally circumvented bidding procedures to use Air Assurance exclusively, even though any such conspiracy could have been carried out only by Bilby’s department
  • Did not request HVAC bids after Gerber provided him with the new HVAC bidding procedures and format
  • Requested in an email to Sisney that Maintenance Department employees not be involved in developing bidding procedures (it is unclear whether this is before or after Gerber and Brown developed the bidding procedures)
  • Was found by the Jones audit to have failed to follow the requirements
    of the Competitive Bidding Act regarding the District’s HVAC work. The audit said this was not intentional, and was due to failure to keep procedures up to date, and miscommunications and misinterpretations of the laws.

Branch, Ricky

  • Director of Local Government and Special Services Division in State Auditor Office
  • Directly supervised Sherri Combs and oversaw the audit investigation and reporting
  • Met with Sisney supporters and accepted the ersatz evidence from them
  • According to Combs’ deposition:
    • told Combs that she should not interview Bill Miller, Gary Gerber, or Sharon Whelpley alone, and that he would go with her. Never scheduled a time, and then told her they would not be interviewing them.
    • told Combs not to interview Air Assurance or the three board members, except for asking one specific question of Shari Wilkins regarding the false claim that she had prior business ties with Air Assurance
    • edited the audit report after Combs had finished it
  • Reviewed and approved the draft audit that contained allegations of criminal conduct by school employees and members of the community. The Jones audit specifically refuted these charges
  • Is currently still employed in the State Auditor’s office

Brown, Linda

  • Former Purchasing Director for Broken Arrow Schools
  • Assisted Gerber with creating HVAC bidding procedures and format, and communicating progress with Purchasing Director Mark Bilby
  • Was not responsible for bidding
  • Was accused by Sisney of participating in Gerber and Miller’s scheme with Air Assurance; Sisney tried to fire her in April 2008
  • Was interviewed extensively by Combs for the original audit; Combs quoted her statements and emails in the audit draft before presenting a conclusion consistent with Sisney’s story but completely at odds with the evidence cited

Combs, Sherri

  • Special auditor for the State Auditor’s office; handled Broken Arrow Schools first audit, discarded by State Auditor
  • Accepted information provided outside the District by pro-Sisney board members and citizens, including Beth Snellgrove, Chris Tharp, and Terry Stover, as well as competitors Bob Townsend and Keith Deaver.
  • Held phone conversations with Thurman Lee Sisney (but states she cannot recall what they talked about) and received emails, possibly sent with attachments (she states she can’t remember) from him sent to her personal email account (which she claimed she deleted without reading)
  • Also received emails from board president Terry Stover and BA parent Beth Snellgrove at her personal email account
  • Did not interview key people accused by Sisney; said she was directed not to by her supervisor Ricky Branch.
  • Included hearsay and unsupported claims in her audit report, all consistent with Sisney’s story (sometimes word-for-word) but without any evidence
  • Presented conclusions favorable to Sisney in her audit draft, while pointing to evidence that not only did not support her conclusion, but frequently contradicted it
  • Told Burrage she was concerned that he had removed findings that were damaging to District employees and board members from her report
  • Secretly taped the audit meetings with the school board, without the knowledge of anyone in the meeting or any staff in the state auditor’s office
  • Provided the audit draft and recordings to Sisney’s attorney
  • Said in her deposition that she sought legal counsel with Sisney’s attorney because she was afraid for her reputation and career, after hearing threats from Doug Mann in the audit meetings
  • Went on medical leave right after the audit was officially discarded
  • Fought appearing for her deposition
  • After working for the OSAI for seven years, Combs stated in her deposition that she was aware of but not familiar with OSAI auditing standards or governmental auditing standards and that she never considers potential bias of individuals or information received when conducting an audit
  • Is currently still employed in the State Auditor’s office (as of June 24, 2011)

    UPDATE:  On Oct. 17, 2012, a comment was posted on this blog from someone at the State Auditor’s office (using an official government email address from SAI) stated, “FYI… Sherri Combs voluntarily resigned from the OSAI over a year ago.”)  GOOD NEWS!

Flippo, Maryanne

  • Board member from 1999 – 2009
  • Ran for state representative in 2008; was defeated in the primary by Dr. Mike Ritze
  • One of three who voted to terminate Sisney
  • One of three who told the board president in advance that they would not attend any more board meetings until their agenda items were included, and followed through at the next board meeting
  • Held a press conference in which she stated that Sisney had promised a PR nightmare for Broken Arrow Schools and her personally unless the board “did what he wanted done in relation to his own employment” In the defendants’ counterclaim the three board members filed against Sisney in his lawsuit, those demands included a favorable job review from the board and an approval of an early extension of his employment contract from 2011 – 2012 (three years in advance)
  • Was banned from the ESC by Sisney and accused by Sisney of being “out of control” because she had tried to place an item on the board’s agenda after Sisney and the board president had rejected it
  • was portrayed as being vindictive toward Sisney, obsessed with him,
    convinced that he was evil, and willing to stop at nothing to get him under
    control
  • Was shown by the Jones audit to have had no conflict of interest or participation in any scheme or coverup with Air Assurance

Gerber, Gary

  • Worked for Broken Arrow Schools from 1974 – 2010
  • Assistant Superintendent of Operations from 2003 to 2008
  • Developed a form to help the District get accurate HVAC bids; provided the form and the procedures he developed to the purchasing director, Mark Bilby; they were never used
  • Was accused by Sisney, Ann Wade, Keith Isbell, and Carol Yates of participating in the scheme with board members and Air Assurance to defraud the district and cover up the corruption
  • Announced his retirement after Sisney tried unsuccessfully to fire him in April 2008; was scheduled to retire at the end of 2008
  • After Sisney was fired in October 2008, was made Interim Superintendent.
  • Was given a contract as Superintendent for 2009-2010 while the District conducted a search for a new superintendent; Gerber and the board agreed that he would not be considered for the permanent position
  • Was criticized in the Broken Arrow Ledger and Tulsa World for charging Beth Snellgrove a fee for her umpteenth document request
  • Received a good evaluation and a $14,000 bonus as specified in his contract at the end of the 2009 school year
  • Was interviewed briefly by Combs at the start of the original audit; was not interviewed again
  • Was shown by the Jones audit to have had no involvement in any scheme or coverup

Habib, Nour

  • Reporter for the Broken Arrow Ledger; joined the Ledger staff after the main events surrounding Sisney’s termination
  • Wrote factual, balanced, informative, unbiased articles to help readers see the full picture

Henley, Trish

  • Parent of children in BA Schools
  • Ran for the school board seat being vacated by Maryanne Flippo
  • Campaign was managed by Sisney supporter Beth Snellgrove
  • Was the only candidate (of three) who stated that she definitely would not have fired Sisney

Hudkins, J. Douglas

  • Optometrist and owner of the Sequoyah Professional Building, which has a strikingly similar address to Sequoyah Middle School’s
  • Friend of Dr. Mike Ritze
  • Friend of Mike and Narissa Rampey, owners of Air Assurance
  • Was accused by Sisney of accepting free HVAC work done by Air Assurance and paid for by the District; Sisney continued the accusations even after being shown the billing typo that proved it wrong
  • Was accused by Sisney of telling Mike Ritze three times, in the presence of others, that Sisney was “stealing from the District”; Hudkins’ testimony is that he told Ritze that Sisney was accusing Hudkins of stealing from the District
  • Was sued by Sisney for defamation

Isbell, Keith

  • Chief Communications Officer for Broken Arrow Schools from 2002 – 2010
  • Received Superintendent Stipends
  • As communications officer, relayed Ritze’s initial email to Sisney
  • Was fired immediately after the audit interviews with the school administration, at the beginning of September 2010 with salary paid through February 2011

Lare, John

  • Owner of Taco Mayo in Broken Arrow and Partner in Education with Broken Arrow Public Schools
  • Circulated a petition to oust the three board members who voted to suspend Sisney, claiming that they had wasted District money on legal fees and violated open meetings laws
  • Used a District email list to generate support for his petition and criticize the three board members; was subsequently dropped as a Partner in Education for that reason; was reinstated as a PIE a year later
  • Filed a Taxpayer Demand claiming that Air Assurance had cheated the District out of all the money the District had ever paid them, and calling for the board to demand a full refund. When asked for evidence, never provided any
  • Filed a police report with Sisney alleging illegal billing by Air Assurance and a coverup by school employees and board members

Lewis, Bob

  • Managing Editor for the Broken Arrow Ledger during the time Sisney was fired
  • Wrote extremely biased stories and editorials promoting Sisney’s point of view and casting suspicion on his targets
  • While he was editor, the Ledger censored comments that brought up the contradictions, inconsistencies, implausibility, and impossibility of Sisney’s claims, while allowing pro-Sisney comments that were libelous and defamatory.

Mann, Doug

  • Attorney with Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold (RFR), specializing in school districts
  • Had previously been the attorney for BA Schools; was replaced by Sisney with the Center for Education Law
  • Was rehired by the three board members against Sisney’s wishes; Updike and Stover voted against, and Dr. Mike Ritze spoke at the meeting urging the board not to hire RFR
  • Conducted interviews relating to the complaints against Sisney by board members, staff, patrons, and members of the community.
  • Handled the legal aspects of Sisney’s termination, including drafting the letter citing reasons for possible dismissal
  • Was accused by Reynolds of flip-flopping on the legality of paying teachers for unused sick time at any time other than their termination from the District

Miller, Bill

  • Former Maintenance Director for BA Schools
  • Had day-to-day contact with Air Assurance personnel who did the installations and maintenance; reviewed and approved invoices based on work done. Was not responsible for bidding.
  • Recommended staying with Air Assurance as the sole HVAC vendor when board member Wes Smithwick inquired about using in-house personnel in 2006
  • Gave input into the bidding procedures and format developed by Gerber and Brown
  • Was accused by Sisney of working with Gerber, board members, and Air Assurance in their scheme to cheat the District
  • Was moved by Sisney to Purchasing Director Mark Bilby’s department after Sisney tried unsuccessfully to fire Miller in April 2006
  • Was never interviewed by Combs in the original audit, although she did drive by his house and attempt unsuccessfully to insert a business card in his door
  • Was shown by the Jones audit to have had no involvement in any scheme or coverup

Rampey, Mike and Narissa (see “Air Assurance” above)

Reynolds, Mike (Rep.)

  • State representative from Oklahoma City area
  • Received information illegally taken by Sisney about teachers who received pay for unused sick days; held a press conference criticizing this practice without first finding out that it wasn’t illegal, was a common negotiated benefit in many Oklahoma Districts, and had been discontinued 5 years previously in Broken Arrow. As prompted by Sisney, specifically named Gerber and Cheryl Kelly as recipients. The press conference was 5 days before the school board election in which Kelly was a candidate
  • Received a confidential letter illegally taken by Sisney in which Doug Mann
    recommended discontinuing the sick pay practice; held another press conference accusing Mann of flip-flopping on the sick pay issue
  • Held a press conference in which he accused State Auditor Burrage of dragging
    his feet on Broken Arrow’s audit and “watering it down” to protect the criminals in BA Schools, by leaving out criminal activity by school employees, board members, and Air Assurance, allegedly under pressure from Doug Mann
  • In press statements, protested the state law that required the school board, as the requestors of the audit, to review it 14 days before it was released to the public. Protested allowing the District’s attorney, Doug Mann, to attend the review meeting
  • Received the secretly recorded audio of the review meetings and confidential
    audit draft that Sherri Combs had given to Sisney’s attorney Richardson. Without verifying any of the information, immediately posted them on the website of the House of Representatives, and notified the media of their availability
  • Fought appearing at his deposition. Tried to evade service, then after service, claimed legislative immunity based on the investigation he claimed he undertook into BA Schools
  • Admitted in his deposition that he never investigated anything until the day before his deposition, when he asked about the sick pay policy – in a school district represented by the three board members’ attorney
  • Claimed his communications with Thurman Lee Sisney (Jim’s brother) of Kentucky were protected by attorney/client privilege because he was represented by Lee Sisney even though Lee Sisney was not licensed to practice law in Oklahoma

Richardson, Gary

  • Attorney in Richardson Law Firm. Represented Sisney in filing his lawsuits and holding his press conferences
  • Represented John Lare in filing the Taxpayer Demand
  • Was given the draft audit and the recordings of the audit meetings with the board by Sherri Combs; these went on to be delivered to Reynolds’ attorney by an unknown man, and were subsequently fed to the media by Reynolds via the House of Representatives website
  • Withdrew as Sisney’s counsel shortly after the Combs audit was released, as further investigations were announced, in November 2010

Ritze, Mike (Representative)

  • Medical doctor with practice in Broken Arrow
  • Ran for state representative in 2008; defeated board member Maryanne Flippo in the primary and won the seat. Sworn in in January 2009
  • Longtime friend of Dr J. Douglas Hudkins, the optometrist who was accused by Sisney
  • Contacted Sisney to discuss the school board’s plans to hire law firm RFR; unknown what prompted him to do this, but likely through ties with Isbell
  • Met with Sisney before the board meeting in which RFR was hired; was shown documents that purportedly were evidence of corruption
  • Spoke against hiring RFR at the board meeting, days after contacting
    Sisney for the first time
  • Circulated and signed Lare’s petition to oust the board members; curiously also notarized his own signature
  • Testified in his deposition that Hudkins had told him three times that
    Sisney was “stealing from the District”
  • Posted a blog comment supporting Trish Henley for school board
  • Fought appearing at his deposition, first evading service, then after finally being served, claiming it didn’t count, then claiming “legislative immunity” based on the investigation he claimed undertook into BA Schools
  • In his deposition, admitted not having investigated anything
  • In his deposition, denied emailing Sisney, denied supporting a board member in
    the election, and denied circulating the petition, until he was shown evidence of each
  • Worked with Sisney, board members, and citizens to provide misleading evidence and false accusations to the state auditor and attorney general’s office
  • Claimed to be represented by Thurman Lee Sisney of Kentucky, even though
    Lee Sisney was not licensed to practice law in Oklahoma

Sisney, Jim

  • Superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools from 2003 – 2008.
  • Secretly gave over $250,000 in bonuses (Superintendent Stipends) over a three-year period to a select few administrators, without it being in the budget or in their contracts, and without board approval or knowledge
  • Contracted with two legal firms without the board’s knowledge or approval; as superintendent he does not have the authority to hire legal firms
  • Got a purchase order from the District to contract with a third legal firm to represent him in his fight against the school board (“to hire him as a balancing factor from Doug Mann”); as superintendent, he does not have the authority to hire legal firms
  • Accepted a gift from a vendor, Windstream, for an all-expense paid trip to the Final Four basketball tournament for him and his brother, Thurman Lee Sisney
  • Shut out legal counsel from the District’s operations, except for $8,500 for the entire year – about 7 hours per month for the entire District of 16,000 students and 1,000 teachers and staff (by comparison, Union with 14,500 students budgeted $170,000 in 2008, or 141 hours per month)
  • Denied access to the District’s legal counsel for board members, except for his ally–the board president
  • Shut down the board’s ability to discuss certain issues (including questions about the District’s finances and fund balance) by refusing to place items they asked for on the meeting agenda
  • Criticized board members in an email sent to all District staff in August 2008
  • Falsely claimed to have found a corrupt scheme to defraud the District carried out over the course of at least a decade by school maintenance employees, board members, and Air Assurance, a heating and air company
  • Falsely claimed he was fired for trying to investigate
  • Was fired for threatening and humiliating staff and patrons, making disparaging remarks about employees, board members, and other superintendents, illegally keeping contract changes secret from the board, slandering a vendor, and exhibiting poor leadership and cooperation with staff and the community
  • Declined his due process hearing after he was suspended
  • Prompted two board members to mislead the community about the actions of the three board members who fired him
  • Sued three board members for defamation, knowingly including false accusations in his complaint
  • Announced his fabricated suspicions in the media in multiple press conferences and interviews
  • Sued the District for wrongful termination, knowingly including false accusations in his complaint
  • Filed a police report with false accusations and no evidence
  • Worked with state representatives and citizens to give the auditor false information and false conclusions

Sisney, Thurman Lee

  • Attorney in Kentucky
  • Brother of Jim Sisney
  • Accompanied Jim Sisney on the all-expense-paid trip to the Final Four basketball tournament, paid for by vendor Windstream
  • Advised Jim Sisney in how to conduct his fight against the three board members and Doug Mann of RFR
  • Was involved with the group that provided phony evidence and false testimony to the auditor and attorney general’s office
  • Was allegedly legal counsel for Sisney, Ritze, Reynolds, Combs, and Snellgrove (and possibly others) even though he is not licensed to practice law in Oklahoma; all claimed attorney-client privilege

Snellgrove, Beth

  • Parent of children in BA Schools until family moved out of state in 2010
  • Received confidential information from Updike; passed it on to Sisney where it was used to script statements to the press by Updike and Sisney, comments in news articles, editorials criticizing the school administration; was included in filings in Sisney’s lawsuits, and was presented to the auditor as evidence
  • Made multiple FOI requests for documents as directed by Sisney, after Updike was banned from viewing and copying documents without a chaperone; Snellgrove was eventually assessed a fee by Gerber to cover the drain on school resources
  • Managed the school board campaign of Trish Henley, who was the only candidate to state that she definitely would not have fired Sisney
  • Participated in the group that provided misleading documents and false testimony to the state auditor and attorney general’s office
  • Approached Sisney for assistance in finding her husband Roger Snellgrove a new job after he has been out of work for months. He was subsequently given a top administrative job at Sperry Schools in November 2009 as Director of Operations by the Sperry board, as recommended by Jim Sisney; Sisney had created this position for Snellgrove even though Snellgrove had no school-related experience. When Roger Snellgrove returned to his home state to care for ailing family members and found a new job there, the position he filled at Sperry was eliminated.

Stover, Terry

  • Board member from 2006 – 2010
  • One of two who voted not to fire Sisney
  • Dismissed Flippo’s claim that Sisney threatened her
  • Refused to allow other board members to add agenda items; ignored their request to cancel the board meeting unless their items were included; held the meeting anyway even though he knew in advance they would not attend
  • Wrote an editorial in the paper criticizing the policy not to allow public comment at Sisney’s suspension and termination meetings, even though he knew the reasons it was necessary
  • Secretly sent the letter the board had been waiting on to Air Assurance without the board knowing, seeing it, approving it, or signing it. Did not inform them until Wilkins asked.
  • Worked with Sisney, citizens and state representatives to provide misleading information and testimony to the auditor and attorney general’s office
  • Resigned as board member when the Combs audit was discarded and the redo was announced; said it was in protest of the way the school employees who had bravely provided testimony supporting Sisney were being treated

Swaim, William

  • Executive Editor of the Broken Arrow Ledger and other Neighbor Newspapers in the Tulsa metro area
  • Wrote editorials critical of the board members and the school administration, exaggerating and mischaracterizing insignificant details to vilify his targets, while ignoring the outrageous, obvious, ongoing unethical – and expensive – behavior of Sisney and his supporters
  • Published the complete leaked “draft audit” provided to the media by Rep. Mike Reynolds even though it had been provided to Reynolds by an unknown source, the information in it was unverified, and it contained false and defamatory statements about individuals. Chose to publish the draft documents in his paper, even after he knew that the State Auditor had publicly stated the audit process was suspect and that the auditor’s independence was compromised and people who provided information to her appeared to be operating with an agenda (bias). Before publishing the draft, sent a formal request to the State Auditor’s office requesting the release of the draft audit. Even though he received a written response to his request and told the matter would be reviewed by the SA and the AG the next week, Swaim went ahead and published the draft audit papers already in circulation (thanks to Reynolds) within a couple of days of his original request to the OSAI, instead of waiting for a ruling.

Tharp, Chris

  • Parent of children in BA Schools
  • Spoke at school board meetings criticizing the three board members and supporting Sisney
  • Participated in the group that provided misleading documents and testimony to the state auditor and attorney general’s office
  • Sued the District to obtain the details for the legal bills that were incurred in firing Sisney, dealing with Lare’s Taxpayer Demand, handling Open Records demands for documents containing potentially confidential information, and defending the District in Sisney’s lawsuits
  • Won an award for forcing the District to provide the redacted legal bill details incurred in advising board members regarding Sisney’s insubordination and PR attacks, firing Sisney and preparing for his due process hearing, and defending the District in Sisney’s lawsuits
  • Posted many online comments to news articles under several usernames supporting Sisney and attacking those who questioned his story, including making false and ridiculous claims about their identities
  • Posted many comments making false, derogatory, and insulting statements about the three board members, Doug Mann, and school employees

Townsend, Bob

  • Owner of Custom Services (formerly named Custom Heat and Air)
  • Was not invited to bid by Broken Arrow Schools in 2007 because of a lawsuit ruling against the company for negligence (this has been resolved and Custom currently has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau)
  • Made accusations that BA Schools shut vendors out of the bidding process
  • Accused Air Assurance of cheating the District
  • Provided misleading evidence to the auditor that appeared to support the previously debunked claim that the District had paid for HVAC work done at the office of a Rampey friend
  • Picketed at the board meeting where Sisney was suspended

Updike, Stephanie

  • Board member from 2000 to 2010
  • One of two who voted not to fire Sisney
  • Upon receiving a confidential email from Maryanne Flippo citing concern about Sisney’s unprofessional behavior, immediately shared it with Sisney
  • Presented a misleading Powerpoint presentation created by Sisney at a board meeting, making disparaging comments about the law firm Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold (RFR)
  • Spoke out in the community against allowing public comment at Sisney’s suspension and termination meetings even though she knew the policy was legally necessary
  • Worked with Sisney, citizens and state representatives to provide misleading information and testimony to the auditor and attorney general’s office
  • Provided confidential board information to citizens who were assisting Sisney
  • Spied on Maryanne Flippo, following her in her car
  • Made disparaging and inaccurate statements about the three board members in the media

Vermillion, Matthew

  • Developed a website called “BAParentsvsBABOE” that advocated Sisney’s made-up story of conspiracy. The website included invoices, board meeting minutes, and other documents that were portrayed as evidence of the collusion; the Jones audit found nothing of concern in these documents. Chose to omit posting any factual information from news stories that discounted Sisney’s version of events
  • The website’s name was later changed to the less-inflammatory “BAParentsForTruth”, then taken down. Vermillion removed his affiliation to it from his Facebook.

Vuillemont-Smith, Ronda

  • Married to the owner of a HVAC company that is a direct competitor to Air Assurance
  • Active in the Americans for Prosperity group to defeat the 2009 school bond issue, including a radio appearance and blog articles and contacting/working with Mike Ritze and Matthew Vermillion
  • Wrote a blog article protesting the BA school district’s attorney, Doug Mann, attending the audit review meetings while the public had to wait, and claiming that Sisney’s firing and the subsequent investigation were caused by the District’s “controversial practices”
  • Told a reporter immediately after one of the audit meetings, which Combs secretly recorded, that Doug Mann said the District was going to “hire the biggest PR firm in the state”, and that she disagreed with tax dollars being spent that way. Someone breached confidentiality to give Vuillemont-Smith that line, and it was inaccurate. The PR statement was made in the confidential meeting, and referred to Air Assurance, not the District. Several newspapers reported this inaccurate attempt to smear BA Schools administration; none ever corrected it or questioned its origin.

Wade, Ann

  • CFO of BA Schools July 2009 – February 2011
  • Told Dr. Mike Ritze that there was no way Sisney could steal from the District because he didn’t know the financial codes
  • In press statements, outlined the District’s procedures regarding the work order system and blanket purchase orders. Acknowledged that bidding procedures had not been followed correctly. When the District’s guidelines were changed, provided details of the improvements.
  • Served the District as a competent, experienced, and forward-looking CFO
  • Told auditor Sherri Combs that the reason she gave Gerber only copies of the Air Assurance-related documents he requested was that she feared he would destroy them, when in fact it is standard policy to provide only copies, leaving the originals safe in the file room. [According to employees, Gerber had access to the file room anyway so he could have destroyed what he wanted, Wade’s concerns notwithstanding. Nevertheless, both the Combs and the Jones audit found that nothing was missing]
  • Told auditor Sherri Combs that she saw Gerber carrying bags of shredded paper to his car (the audit determined that Gerber had used shreds in packing items for the Historical Society)
  • Announced her departure from BA Schools in February 2011, leaving the district that same month, but received her retirement was not considered to be in effect until the end of the school year (salary paid through June 30–four additional months after departure). New job as OkASBO’s Executive Secretary/Director did not start until July 1.
  • Was hired as a financial consultant at Sperry Schools while Jim Sisney was superintendent, after she left BA Schools

Whelpley, Sharon

  • Board member from 1992 – present
  • One of three who voted to terminate Sisney
  • One of three who told the board president in advance that they would not attend any more board meetings until their agenda items were included, and followed through at the next board meeting
  • Was portrayed as being biased against Sisney because of a $400 contribution to her campaign made by Air Assurance
  • Was shown by the Jones audit to have had no conflict of interest or participation in any scheme or coverup with Air Assurance

Wilkins, Shari

  • Board member from 2008 – present
  • One of three who voted to terminate Sisney
  • One of three who told the board president in advance that they would not attend any more board meetings until their agenda items were included, and followed through at the next board meeting
  • Was accused by Sisney of “continually pressuring” him to apologize to the Rampeys for accusing them of cheating the District
  • Was accused by Sisney of participating in the alleged conspiracy even though she joined the board in February 2008, just two months before he made his accusations of corruption since at least the 1990’s
  • Was portrayed as being biased against Sisney because of business ties
    with Air Assurance (the audit found that there were no business ties)
  • Was shown by the Jones audit to have had no conflict of interest or participation in any scheme or coverup with Air Assurance

Williams, Trish

  • CFO of BA Schools for approximately 10 years, through June 2008
  • Received Superintendent Stipends
  • Was blamed by Sisney for misstating the fund balance in 2008; this accusation coincided with the sudden receipt of several delayed Air Assurance invoices (for legitimate, budgeted-for work). It was at this time that Sisney began accusing Air Assurance of cheating the District.
  • Was named by Sisney in his deposition as an employee who was possibly in on the alleged conspiracy with Air Assurance. Sisney testified that he was unsure of her involvement, so he did not include her when he recommended that the board fire Gerber, Miller, and Brown in April 2008.
  • Resigned effective June 30, 2008; became CFO of Tulsa Public Schools

Yates, Carol

  • Sisney’s secretary
  • Claimed that Gerber requested a shredder and then shredded for his first three days as Interim Superintendent, in his office with the door closed. The implication was that he was shredding documents relating to Air Assurance. The audit found that no documents involving HVAC were missing
  • Claimed that Gerber had moved her from an office to a closet, to humiliate her, filed a hostile work environment complaint, and reported the incident to the auditor Combs. The State Auditor subsequently stated the area she was relocated to was a long hallway where she and other coworkers were stationed during a remodeling project.

3 thoughts on “Who’s Who in Sisney’s Attack

  1. I just found this while looking at info about the casino on FB. Thank you so much for putting this together! It helps to figure out all the people who were involved.

  2. Jen, thank you for checking out our blog, and for your kind words! We hope to provide the details that went unreported, to help people understand how this controversy really unfolded. We are still waiting on the final items in the audit, and for the judge’s ruling on the lawsuit Sisney filed against the Rampeys, the three board members, Dr. Hudkins, and the school district. I hope you will check back for updates, and help spread the word and clear the names of these innocent people!

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