Just hours before a special meeting of the Mason County Board of Education, Superintendent Tim Moore gave notice of his intention to retire, but that didn't keep an overflow crowd from attending the meeting and voicing their displeasure with results of a school board audit released last week
The meeting was held at the District's board room downtown, and members of the board of education took less than 10 minutes to conduct business under the rules of a special meeting, which limited items of discussion to agenda items only.
With Moore's chair at the table noticeably vacant, Board Chair Janet West opened the meeting and then said there would be no need to go into executive session to discuss Moore's future with the district due to events earlier in the day.
Board member Kevin Carpenter then read Moore's letter to the board, announcing his retirement "effective immediately." Within the letter, Moore said "I do so knowing that I am ending my career amidst disappointment and regret. It is my desire that the district move forward and continue the challenging, but rewarding work of helping our students be college and career ready...there was only one goal and that was finding ways to make the school district one of the best in the nation...Please accept my retirement with humility and sincerity with which it is written." There was a motion to accept Moore's retirement, which was passed unanimously.
Business then moved on to discussion of hiring a new accounting firm to review the state auditor's report which cited "excessive spending" by Moore, the board and other administrators and "determine what actions need to be taken concerning reimbursement of excess payments, preparing corrected payroll related tax forms, and advising the Board on any policies and procedures which need to be changed." Proposals are to be sent to the Board office prior to the next Board meeting on Nov. 12.
Shouts of "unacceptable," referring to Moore "retiring" rather than a "resignation," came from the crowd, along with comments of we will "vote everyone one of you out," as board member Curtis "Kirby" Rosser called for a motion to adjourn, which was seconded and then passed.
Board Chair Janet West and Board Member Vicky Lowe quickly left the meeting, but Rosser, Carpenter and Ann Porter stayed and agreed to take questions from the crowd, but said only if those questions would be presented one at a time.
Those assembled wanted to know why Moore would be allowed to keep his retirement, which the board explained is beyond their control, it is dictated by state law.
Carpenter said Moore presented several proposals to the board Monday "to continue his employment with the District," but the board "rejected those."
"The bottom line, he is gone today," said Carpenter...
When asked if other administrators named in the audit report would be suspended or have other action taken against them by the board, attorney Sue Brammer advised board members not to go in that direction because it was a personnel issue.
When pressure continued from the crowd for answers to the excessive spending cited in the state's audit report and no actions being taken by the board to review or questions financials, Carpenter said this board has operated no differently than any other board before it.
To the question of a $200 smoking violation in a (Chicago) hotel being paid by the District credit card, Porter said the charge was repaid, "I think."
At one point, Rosser told the crowd it "won't be business as usual," when members review financial reports in the future and later made the statement, "we're all to blame." ...
As questions and comments continued, board members asked the crowd, which included a large contingent of teachers, why complaints of misuse of district funds and policies were never brought to their attention. Comments around the room included the words "fear," and "retaliation" from the superintendent.
Former Mason County Middle School teacher Tony Browning came forward and reminded board members of several MCMS teachers attending a board meeting in 2010 to voice their concerns about how things were working under Moore. Browning said at the end of the school year, six of those people were terminated, five of whom had been labeled as "rebellious" by Moore.
"The staff worked under intimidation," Browning said.
The next regular board meeting will be held Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. Under state open meeting rules for a "regular" meeting, comments are allowed from the public, outside of the stated agenda items.