Saturday, August 25, 2007

Erwin's Scottsdale personnel file also Missing

Scottsdale Schools General Counsel confirms:
Erwin file missing

Stop me if you've heard this one before...but Barbara Erwin's personnel file is missing.

Not the one in St Charles Illinois. We already knew it went bye bye. Now comes confirmation that Erwin's Scottsdale Arizona file also mysteriously disappeared.

Now who on Earth would have...?

Who had the means?
Who had the motive?
Who had the opportunity?

Some citizens in St Charles, Illinois are - shall we say ...disgruntled.

Burned by years of feeling marginalized...
...hacked off by revelations of illegal back room deals that violated the Open Meetings Act
...and the Gaffney/Erwin memo that asked for even more than the contract allowed for Erwin
...and what smells to them like attempted fraud
...or possibly conspiracy to commit fraud extraordinary gift of sick days, the kind of gift that threatened to undermine the state's teacher retirement system sufficiently that the Illinois legislature outlawed the practice the board was engaged in that stands to cost the St Charles school district thousands of dollars
...Feeling like the state's attorney's response to willful Open Meetings Act violations fell woefully short
...Feeling stonewalled by state's attorney inaction on the Gaffney/Erwin memo
...wondering if Knipp, Gaffney, and others may be contributors to Barsanti's reelection campaign
...wondering if he could recognize a wrongdoing if it was shown to him
...They feel confused by the inaction, but emboldened...and are pressing their case

So, some more digging has been going on.

It had been rumored at KSN&C...and the Kane County Chronicle...that Erwin's Arizona file was also gone. We haven't heard anything from Allen Texas yet, but I suspect somebody will check for her file there as well.

One St Charles citizen sent KSN&C evidence of an email correspondence with Scottsdale Arizona School's General Counsel, Kim C. Clark:

Responding to an Open Records request, Ms. Clark wrote,

"I apologize for the delayed response. We have been unable to locate Ms. Erwin's file. We are contacting our outside attorney's office to see if they might have retained the file for some reason. We will keep you posted. Thank you for your patience."

After further searching Ms. Clark wrote again,
"After a diligent search of our records, and those of our former outside counsel, the District does not have Ms. Erwin's file. We will be sure to notify you, however, if it turns up.
The St Charles citizen pressed the issue a bit with more questions related to whether the district knew if Erwin was aware her file was missing, if a police report had been filed in Arizona and alerting Clark to the investigation in Illinois. A couple of weeks later Clark responded,
"Sorry for the delay in responding. The District's personnel files are maintained in a secure location at the District office. The District is required to maintain personnel files for three years, so it is quite possible that Ms. Erwin's file has been destroyed in the normal course of events. ... Most of the District's current leadership joined the District well after Ms. Erwin resigned and would have no interest in, or knowledge of her file. We continue to investigate, but at this point have uncovered no evidence that any employee or former employee improperly removed the file. Our former outside counsel is Mary Ellen Simonson at Lewis & Roca. I checked with her office on the off chance that they might have a copy of the file, but they did not. I hope this helps.
Clark's explanation that the file might possibly have been destroyed in the normal course of events was not an explanation of what did happen, so much as it was an absolution of the district, should someone claim Scottsdale had done something wrong - which no one is alleging to my knowledge.

Scottsdale attorney Christine Schild picked up on the story and pressed Clark for her own inimitable style. Clark made it clear...they just don't know anything.

"Of course I did not personally supervise the destruction of the file. As I said, that could be what happened, but at this point, we have no definitive proof of what may have happened.We are not withholding any information. We just don't have any information to disclose."

In Illinois

Who had the means?
Who had the motive?
Who had the opportunity?

In Arizona

Who had the means?
Who had the motive?
Who had the opportunity?

In a related matter, An appellate court in Springfield has ruled that contracts of public officials are public record, no matter where they are stored...

...In May, the St. Charles school district said it no longer considered contracts of employees, including then-Superintendent Barbara Erwin, to be public documents. Citing a DuPage County circuit court ruling and a 3rd District appellate court ruling, the school district’s attorney said that, because contracts were kept in personnel files, they were not public information. Last week’s ruling appears to directly contradict that reasoning...

This from the Kane County Chronicle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't the willful destruction of public records a criminal act?