SCHOOL SCANDAL: School Board Under Fire | News
Des Moines Public Schools Officials are defending the way they handled the scandal surrounding their former Superindent’s resignation after she sent out sexually explicit emails on her district account. Now, Des Moines parents are calling for the resignation of School Board President Teree Caldwell-Johnson.
Caldwell Johnson told us Dr. Nancy Sebring was resigning early because of “personal reasons,” like her daughter’s upcoming wedding. In reality, the discovery of those inappropriate emails was behind the decision.
The emails would have come out weeks earlier if a reporter in Omaha had not changed his request for those documents. Initially, he asked for any emails from Dr. Sebring that contained the word “Omaha.” However, after a conversation with Dr. Sebring, the reporter changed his request to only include emails between Dr. Sebring and people from the Omaha district. Dr. Sebring’s lover lived in Des Moines.
Sexually explicit emails continue to be the talk of the metro. Nancy Sebring wrote them on a school district account, sometimes during work and always to her married lover. Callers on WHO radio’s Jan Michelson show called for Des Moines school board president Terre Caldwell-Johnson to resign. They argue that Caldwell-Johnson lied to keep the emails a secret even after she confronted Dr. Sebring and Sebring resigned.
Caldwell-Johnson has defended her decision not to disclose the emails to the public. A district spokesman backed up her decision.
“The board had an obligation to discuss the issue they did. That point too was a personnel issue that’s what Sebring indicated in her resignation letter,” says spokesperson Phil Roeder.
However, Dr. Sebring was no longer an employee of the Des Moines district and many of Michelson’s callers questioned why the board would keep the emails under wraps, for weeks after she resigned.
“I think everyone on board and at least a couple of staff working on this knew full well these emails were going to see the light of day and it would be clear to people what reason led up to resignation.”
The Iowa Association of School Boards says Des Moines’ policy regarding emails is very clear.
“The Superintendent is the Chief Executive of the district and the only employee of Board of Education. Clearly, they must represent the highest standards of ethics and behavior,” says Executive Director Tom Downs.
Now the former Des Moines Superintendent is out of two jobs, leaving a nearly certain overhaul of hiring policies for districts across the state and possibly the nation.
The Omaha School District, which hired Sebring back in May, accepted her resignation on Saturday. Meanwhile, Des Moines School District officials say right now, Superintendent’s contracts do not contain a morality clause. They say that will most certainly change going forward as they hire a new Superintendent.