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School superintendent retires following FOI Act investigation

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    News Media Update         TEXAS         Freedom of Information    

School superintendent retires following FOI Act investigation

  • A Texas school district’s superintendent’s initial refusal to comply with a reporter’s request for public documents led to his suspension, an investigation and his eventual resignation.

Jan. 8, 2004 — A school district superintendent in Texas was forced into retirement following an investigation into his noncompliance with the state’s Public Information Act.

Superintendent Charles R. Bradberry, of the Keller School District, announced in a Dec. 18 press release that he has voluntarily retired from the position he held for the past seven years. Bradberry, 58, had been the subject of a Tarrant County district attorney’s investigation for failing to turn over public records to a local newspaper.

Dave Lieber, a reporter for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, sought invoices for construction work the school district contracted out to Phil Mayfield, of PSM Consulting. Mayfield was fired by the district for overcharging by as much as $275,000, according to newspaper reports.

Bradberry initially denied that the invoices existed, which led to school board president Richard Walker asking Bradberry to go on voluntary paid leave.

Bradberry placed himself on suspension Nov. 10, and the school board notified the county district attorney’s office about the incident. On the recommendation of the county district attorney’s civil litigation unit, the school district’s attorney began an investigation. The investigation lasted only six days, ending when Bradberry turned the invoice records over to Lieber — well after the 10 days allowed by law.

In a Nov. 20 telephone interview with The Star-Telegram, Ann Diamond of the district attorney’s office noted that the primary reason not to pursue criminal charges was the eventual disclosure of the documents.

Bradberry will have the remainder of his contract, scheduled to expire in 2006, bought out for a sum of $122,000. Bradberry will also continue to receive his annual salary of $182,547 until May 31.

In the joint press release issued by Bradberry and the school district’s board of trustees, the denial of public records and “other issues that have come to light” were cited as the reasons behind Bradberry’s departure. Myers told the Star-Telegram that the records request controversy provoked past and current employees to come forward with complaints about Bradberry that were “personnel issues and things of that nature.”

Reached at his office for further comment, Myers said the issues were “internal personnel matters” and declined to elaborate.

AB


© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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