Monday night the Skiatook school board voted to accept the resignation of the district's embattled superintendent.
Dr. Gary Johnson had been on administrative leave following a state audit that showed the district wasted more than a half-million dollars on supplies by going through a middle man.
In addition to voting to accept Dr. Johnson's resignation, the board approved a settlement agreement that will keep him on payroll with full benefits through the end of this school year.
For the first time since the school audit scandal broke, a the school board's attorney addressed the media reading a written statement, saying reaching a settlement with Dr. Johnson was in the best interest of the district.
John Preddy says, "After thoughtful consideration, the board has concluded that this resolution serves the best interest of the Skiatook schools. This course of action will ultimately save the school district tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees associated with a due process hearing and possible lawsuit."
The agreement was met with mixed emotions from the crowd of people who packed the meeting Monday night.
Skiatook parent Jason Willingham says, "To leave him on contract for just over 30 days is an amicable solution to the situation. So at this point we can focus on going forward for our district. The kids deserve that."
Skiatook resident Windsor Ridenour tells 2NEWS, "We blame Johnson for a lot of things. But we also blame the board. It should have never gotten this far."
The meeting took place on the same day that the Tulsa County court clerk handed over 7,600 signatures from Tulsa County voters to the Election Board. If 5,000 are approved, a grand jury investigation will be launched to look into Skiatook School District's financial dealings while under Johnson's leadership.
Through his attorney, Dr. Johnson released this written statement Monday night:
"Throughout the turmoil that has surrounded the State Auditor's Report of the Skiatook School District's finances, there has been plenty of exaggeration and innuendo about my role in the overspending of School District funds. I have maintained my silence at the request of the Board of Education and out of respect for the School District's patrons and the official process. Now that my employment status has been resolved, I feel that I can speak on that issue.
I state categorically and unequivocally that at no time prior to the receipt of the School District's independent audit report in March 2009 was I aware of any overcharges from E & E Sales or Austin Security. During my tenure as Superintendent at Skiatook, I relied upon the annual independent audit reports for the financial condition of the District and its financial practices. At no time did the School District's independent auditor call to my attention any significant deficiencies in our procurement practices or any overcharges by any vendor until our receipt of the report prepared by a new auditor in March 2009.
When the auditor's report was received in March 2009, the Board of Education and I took immediate steps to remedy the deficiencies noted. We immediately terminated all business relationships with E & E Sales and Austin Security. I promptly prepared a comprehensive procurement policy, which was then approved by the Board. Based upon the outstanding track record of success in education achieved for the District during my tenure as Superintendent, the Board made clear to me that this issue had been adequately rectified and we would move forward together.
Nevertheless, I recognize as Superintendent that "the buck stops here," and for that reason I must accept responsibility for failing to insure the proper expenditure of School District funds. To all of the patrons of the Skiatook School District I extend my sincerest apologies for that professional failing and the turmoil it has caused.
I have a 33-year career in education, including teaching and administration, and I would never intentionally do anything to hurt the District or its patrons.
Despite my love for this School District and the people it serves, and despite the great success we have enjoyed in educating our children, I also recognize that under these circumstances, I am no longer able to provide effective leadership to the District. It is for that reason that I elected to resign my position.
I wish continued educational success and excellence for the School District and the children and families it serves."
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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