Hickman Mills School Board Director Dan Osman Looks @ Missouri Audit Aftermath!!!
TKC NOTE: Here's today's e-mail blast insight on the aftermath of a controversial Kansas City area education dust up . . .
HICKMAN MILLS AUDIT - The Full Story
You've already heard about the audit of Hickman Mills ... here's the rest of the story I couldn't tell you until now.
I first realized something was wrong during the 2012 superintendent search. I questioned simple things about costs and procedures. The vendor refused to answer my questions. When I asked then President Breman Anderson, he refused to provide this information and demanded that I stop contacting the vendor. I was ordered to direct all questions to him.
Soon after this conversation, I noticed irregularities in Hickman Mills' payments to the vendor. When I went to the business office for the contract, I discovered it did not have one on file. I asked Mr. Anderson if he had this contract and he denied knowing where it was. Wanting to protect Hickman Mills's best interests, I filed a Sunshine Request.
Three days later, I received a non-original, unsigned version of the "missing" contract. Since neither the business office nor the administration had it, I surmise it came from the locked office Anderson held in administrative center for personal use. The contract stated that the vendor was to be paid 20% of the negotiated 1st year salary of the Superintendent. This is NOT what we the board voted on and agreed to. The vendor had specifically stated its fee would be a flat $30,000. Someone had approved a different agreement on behalf of the board.
I'd like to say that this was a one-time occurrence, but it wasn't. Shockingly, even I didn't realize how much was hidden from the board during Anderson's presidency. Thanks to the Missouri Auditor's Office and its comprehensive review of our district, I found out.
The list is appalling. Multiple contracts missing from the business office. Improper donations authorized by Anderson. Several vendors with contracts broken or authorized to perform work prior to a board vote. Business after business recommended by Anderson because of their ties to a community organization. It just goes on.
The auditors provided this information to me in early 2013, but legal requirements did not allow me to share it with the public at that time. Instead, I took action.
Working to protect our district, Hickman Mills School Board members Eric Lowe, Bonnaye Mims, Shawn Kirkwood and I moved to reorganize and remove Anderson from the presidency last May. It was the right decision: Hickman Mills is now moving in the right direction.
Since then, we've started to address the auditors' concerns and have expanded the reach and vision of the Hickman Mills school district. We're close to implementing a brand new Pre-K program at Ervin. We're also making significant other changes to improve student performance.
Things are finally going well: instead of leadership squandering money, we are focused on our work with Dr. Carpenter and a new vision for Hickman Mills.
If we want help our kids, we cannot be distracted from the tasks we need to achieve. The April 8th election will decide the fate of Hickman Mills: do you want pettiness and divisiveness? Or do you want to continue the strong leadership and improvements you've seen since I was elected vice-president of the board?
"Things have changed," Deputy Auditor Harry Otto stated last week when describing the board's actions since reorganization. I agree with him. We're now on the right track.
And Hickman Mills cannot afford to go backwards.