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WISD finance official resigns

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Board hears allegations, upholds employee firing
The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - Dan Davis, the Waxahachie Independent School District's associate superintendent of business operations, resigned Monday, Nov. 10 for health reasons and amid allegations he had a direct link with financial corruption.

The resignation is effective Dec. 31.

Superintendent Bobby Parker called Davis' work 'beneficial' and wished him well.

'Mr. Davis' willingness to assume new responsibilities and roles as our district has grown, has been beneficial to the district,' Parker said.

However, allegations of misuse of school bond election money and other finance-related corruption have surfaced recently, most notably, with the firing of WISD maintenance employees Ed White and Tim Johnson.

White and Johnson worked under Davis, but were fired after relatives at Monday night's school board meeting said they 'knew too much.'

In two, thick notebooks, Johnson has 1,100 pages of documents showing the details of the finance situation WISD has been in for the past three years. Reports, receipts and transcripts from taped interviews show what Davis and Parker allegedly knew, and detailed the construction problems on all of the campuses.

Documents from the notebook, obtained by The Ellis County Press, show:

• Report from Stroupe Pest Control citing a major rodent problem at Marvin Elementary; in the letter, Don Stroupe, the company owner, stated: 'There are major access openings which are not covered. There are round cover plates over rectangle openings that do not cover. Flanges around pipes that are not sealed. These deficiencies offer access and harborage for insects and rodents…'

Stroupe referred to the construction problems as 'serious.'

• A fire extinguisher service in Corsicana inspected violations of several fire equipment at Shackelford Elementary and the Transportation Department (bus barn) and then reported them to the state fire marshal's office in Austin. Among the Corsicana company's findings are: links connected venti-hoods in the kitchen areas were, by law, required to be replaced each year, but after an inspection was conducted in 2002, engrained dates on the links showed '1986.' This led to the fire extinguisher service to complain.

• Half-completed work on bond-financed school buildings were also shown, via CD-ROMs full of digital photos. Many of the photos were from the Wilemon Education Center and the junior high school, and according to maintenance crews who took the pictures, some new air conditioning equipment caused carbon monoxide to circulate and mix with clean air ducts; there were also pipes patched up with duct tape, and pipe work having to be replaced at a cost of $67,000 (at Wilemon).

• Roof leaks at all campuses, including Wedgeworth Elementary, a recently-built school paid for with taxpayer funds.

• Lead contamination throughout Marvin Elementary in 1998; according to Star Analytical, a Fort Worth-based inspection firm, high amounts of lead were found in the kitchen area at the school; lead was also found in a gymnasium drinking fountain, according to Star's own inspection records, also obtained by this newspaper. That year (1998) was the last inspection of properties for lead, records show.

Relatives, who attended the meeting and helped Johnson obtain and keep the three years worth of documents, said the taxpayers have had to pay double after school contractors did not fulfill work on the schools.

The maintenance department, of which White and Johnson were employees, had to finish the bond-financed projects that were not completed, employees said Monday night.

After White and Johnson's firing, they requested a grievance hearing before the school board - in September.

But after months of wrangling, they finally got their wish - however, due to the wording of the school board agenda, attorneys from both the WISD and the employees said legal issues would arise if the hearing was conducted in open session. In any executive, or closed, session meeting involving personnel matters, persons have a right to hold it in open session.

Trustees Jim Phillips, Mark Price, Marylou Patterson, and Griggs DeHay voted to uphold the firing; John Colwell and Bill Kelley abstained.

'There's people in the district not doing things right, and it's time for them to open up their eyes and face the facts,' said Joan Johnson, Tim Johnson's ex-wife. 'My children go to school [here] and it needs to be run right. They [trustees] have not covered the facts and information. It [notebook] wasn't thrown haphazardly, and it would sicken anyone to read those documents.

'It would sicken them enough to do the right thing. I hope they don't get a lick of sleep [at night]. They should be awake all night and it should eat at them. The people who are doing wrong know it.

'I hope their conscience eats at them.'

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Nelson Propane

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