You can’t help feeling sorry for our neighbor, District 46, who seem to be caught in a ‘Didn’t Ask, Didn’t Tell’ predicament. We are referring to recent reports in the Daily Herald by reporter Bob Susnjara that indicate the newly hired finance chief, Edward Towle, has been on paid administrative leave from his current employer for over a year! It seems as though he got a glowing referral from his current employer, Brown Deer School District in Wisc., so the question was not asked “Are you currently on paid administrative leave?” Who would have thought to ask after receiving such a positive employer referral? What better way to stop the drain on your payroll than to give a glowing recommendation but leave a very important piece of information out. Kind of like a landlord who would like to get rid of a bad tenant and ends up giving a great recommendation to potential landlord inquiries just to get rid of them. More than likely, very few Wisconsin taxpayers actually knew they were paying for a non-performing business manager for the last 15 months.
With a legal mouthpiece hired by Towle and a reported resignation issued to his old employer recently but effective June 30th, District 46 finds themselves in quite a pickle. Since they didn’t ‘Ask’ the right question and Towle was not forthcoming on ‘Telling’ about his situation prior to being hired what are their options now? Will the mouthpiece sue them if they renege on the hiring contract? Will they keep him for the 2010-2011 school year and then cut him loose at a cost of $98,000? Will they honor the contract and immediately place him on administrative leave?
His mouthpiece says ‘He didn’t make any false statements in applying for the District 46 job” He also said Towle “looks forward to the entire community understanding the entire situation”. If that is true, then why not tell the entire community NOW about the entire situation instead of waiting for the Board’s decision, expected around May 15th. Shouldn’t the taxpayers and parents be allowed to ‘understand the entire situation’ before he takes over the reigns? After all, he WILL be handling the taxpayer’s money!
The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported yesterday that Towle has now filed suit against Brown Deer schools for placing him on leave and telling others about it, thus making it difficult for him to find work elsewhere. Supposedly an outside independent audit found Towle had engaged in a “pattern of performance” that violated legal requirements and accepted accounting procedures” which Towles disputes. You can read the entire article as well as several Wisconsin taxpayer comments at: www.JSOnline.com/news/education/93356739.html
Brown Deer District Administrator, Dr. Deb Kerr, wrote in a press release that she wrote the letter of recommendation on Mr. Towle’s behalf as part of an agreement with Mr. Towle and his attorney and upon the advice of their legal counsel. Dr. Kerr went on to say that she was willing to speak with leaders of the district that recently hired Mr. Towle (District 46) to describe her experience in working with him. Wouldn’t her hands still be tied, even if District 46 had called her? In a May 10th press release the District stated that it intends to release, on Wednesday, documents which have been requested by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “will show a pattern of professional behavior by Mr. Towle that put the Brown Deer School District at risk and jeopardized the financial security of the taxpayers’ monies”.
Most management training nowadays teaches employers to simply offer the time that an employee worked for the company and nothing more, especially if there were any issues. In hind sight, Brown Deer School District probably wishes that they had followed that procedure.