BA school board rejects probe
BY OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2009
12/15/09 at 5:04 PM
BROKEN ARROW — A taxpayer demand that would have Broken Arrow schools investigate its vendors and school employees on allegations of fraud should not be pursued because it lacks legal standing and credible evidence of wrongdoing, a school official said.
The school board voted unanimously Monday to reject a taxpayer demand, citing its lack of legal standing, school board attorney Doug Mann said.
Filed in January, the taxpayer demand requires 10 people to go forward, Mann said.
Four of the original 10 people have withdrawn their names from the demand, he said.
Additionally, Mann said, the people who filed the demand haven't supplied the school district with credible evidence of intentional wrongdoing by school employees or district vendors.
"They have not provided us with one thing that shows that any contract that the board entered into was fraudulent or that the district knew was fraudulent or unauthorized," he said.
"The board is finished dealing with it unless they can show us actual evidence to proceed with."
The demand alleges that district employees conspired with Air Assurance by doctoring work orders and by grossly inflating payments for labor and material, records show. Air Assurance is a heating and air-conditioning contractor with an extensive history of performing work for the district.
Gary Richardson, a Tulsa lawyer who represents the taxpayers, said the district cannot ignore the taxpayer demand.
The demand is legally sound, he said, and the required number of people were on the document when it was filed and amended.
"The requirement states that you only need 10 names to file, and we had that," Richardson said. "The district just cannot ignore this."
The taxpayer demand was filed Jan. 7 by Richardson, records show. The item was amended to correct an error in the original names being filed. Taxpayers listed on the demand are: John Lare, JoAnna M. Lare, Jack Kitchens, Eva Kitchens, DeeAnn Masters, Jennifer L. Philbeck, Richard Roberts, Freida Roberts, Robert W. Henry and Ennie Henry.
The Robertses and Kitchens withdrew from the demand, Mann said. In a letter dated Jan. 14, the Kitchens wrote: "I did not agree to anything that was in this letter or even seen it. I do not want to be part of this action."
Richardson said: "The next step is to meet with my clients to bring an official action. It will most probably be a taxpayer lawsuit."
Omer Gillham 581-8301