Responding to disputed legal fee amounts
As president of the Groveport Madison Board of Education, I want to set the record straight about transportation issues.
In a letter published in the Nov. 24 Southeast Messenger, Board Member John Kershner wrote, "There is no excuse for the misrepresentation of the facts by our Board President in her statement at the Nov. 17 board meeting." I want to take a look at the word "misrepresent," because it has various meanings such as, "lie," "not tell the truth," "tell stories," "pull the wool over," "fake," or "pretend." I don’t appreciate being called a liar because I have never lied to the board, community, family or anyone and I would certainly not make a statement that was not true.
This letter is another attempt by Mr. Kershner to develop a smoke screen or try to distort the facts to fit his arguments. He pointed out that the treasurer has paid the attorney firm of Bricker and Eckler $5,916.25 on transportation bills. Before I even spoke on this issue, I checked with the treasurer of the district to make sure of the amounts. That’s why, I pointed out that we have already spent $32,136.47 for transportation attorney bills.
I did not give inaccurate numbers to the public, after specifically advised not to by our attorney. On the contrary, our Attorney Jeff Mackey asked us not to divulge the exact figure that this lawsuit might end up costing the district and I did not share that publicly. Moreover, if Mr. Kershner had bothered to get all of the documentation from our treasurer, then he would have been aware that the $5,916.25 figure was only for the month of June.
To date, we have paid two bills to Bricker and Eckler for transportation issues: June was $5,916.25 and July was $17,777.35, both of which are paid, and the August bill of $8,442.87 has not yet paid. The total is approximately $32,136.47. Next, Fusco, Mackey, Matthews, and Gill have charged us $4,400 for the month of September. Now, anyone can see that this totals over $36,000.
Mr. Kershner wants the public to believe that we have only spent $9,000 on legal transportation and that is not true. We have spent over $35,000, plus he, and board members Nathan Slonaker and Duane Dailey, agreed to spend another $10,000 retainer to file a lawsuit against Petermann, plus an estimate that we were given by Mackey. You do the math! I invite anyone to come in and take a look at the invoices if you doubt my honesty, because they are public record. Yes, there is a reasonable basis for these numbers and Mr. Kershner just does not want the community to know how much of the taxpayers’ money they are willing to waste!
I have been reviewing the legal invoices since February when there were questions about our legal invoices. I have first hand knowledge of our attorney bills, because they don’t get paid until Superintendent McKenzie and I approve them. If this scenario that Mr. Kershner, Mr. Slonaker and Mr. Dailey voted to carry out; only time will tell whether we spent $100,000 and the community hopefully will be interested to know, because it is my firm belief that this will cost taxpayers very close to $100,000 or more.
In the meantime, what are these expenditures costing us in community respect, and support? We need to pass a levy. We need to concern ourselves with getting additional dollars for textbooks and teaching supplies instead of spending money on attorney fees that may not bear any fruit , especially in light of the fact that we are going to be making cuts in as many areas as we possibly can. I believe we cannot continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit that our attorneys can’t even guarantee we will win. This is truly heartbreaking and fiscally irresponsible!
Dr. Naomi Sealey, president
Groveport Madison Schools