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In Your Opinion: Focus of School Board Ethics Complaints Should be on Conduct

Franklin-school-board-officeBy Rob Trautman, Somerset

I am writing this in response to the editorial penned by Julia Presley recently that inappropriately and falsely accused me, along with others, of fiscal irresponsibility for filing ethics complaints against Ms. Presley.  As an initial matter, I must make clear that I am writing as an individual and not on behalf of the Board of Education.  These are my statements and opinions.

It deeply saddens me that the conversation surrounding Ms. Presley’s ethics charges is focused on the legal fees incurred rather than the conduct that necessitated the filing of the complaints.  I believe the sort of conduct that led to the filing of the complaints exposes the district to lawsuits and other costs that will far exceed any deductible for the ethics complaints.  The simple fact of that matter is that I believe the complaints that have been filed are justified and necessary.  This position is supported by the fact that the School Ethics Commission has denied Ms. Presely’s efforts to have the complaints dismissed and found that the facts alleged in the Complaint would rise to the level of ethics violations.

Edmund Burke stated that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.  I believe that I have an obligation to protect the public trust and the district’s legal and financial positions.  Therefore, I believe it was necessary to take the steps I have to ensure the district is protected and that the district is run in a legal and ethical manner.  Given the opportunity to do this all over I would not hesitate to file the charges again.  I invite anyone with questions concerning the ethics complaints to contact me at robtrautmann@gmail.com.

Finally, I think it is important to note that the facts stated in Ms. Presley’s open letter are incorrect.  The district does have a $5,000 deductible per complaint.  However that does not mean the district must pay $5,000 per complaint, but rather that the district pays the first $5,000 of the defense cost.  There is no potential cost beyond that.  The district has budgeted $100,000 for these sorts of expenses.  To focus on the deductibles for the ethics complaints is shortsighted given the potential exposure the district faces if ethics violations go unchallenged.  While I agree with everyone else that the district should not have to pay for the ethics violations of individual board members, I disagree that this should dissuade anyone from filing meritorious complaints where there have been ethics violations.

Your Thoughts

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