Letter to the editor: Waukee school audit bigger mess than thought

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The Waukee Community School District Board of Education is composed of, front row from left, Directors Lori Lyon and Mary Scheve, Board Vice President Wendy Liskey and Board President Susan Bunz; second row from left, Directors Jerry Ripperger, Ethan Huisman and David Cunningham. Photo courtesy Waukee CSD

To the editor:

Reading the Waukee school district audit, one asks, How does this happen?

Chief Operating Officer Eric Rose admits falsifying time cards, taking school property for personal use, soliciting vendors for contributions, using district employees to run his errands, using a snow blower for personal use and generally violating district polices.

Amazingly, in the midst of two investigations of Rose, the school board and superintendent still gave him two raises.

The insult to taxpayers takes the form of three dedicated district employees who lost their careers after reporting Rose’s actions and suffering his wrath. Iowa’s Whistle Blower’s Law failed to protect them from Rose’s retribution.

The school board and superintendent sided with Rose and have so far lost two lawsuits filed by employees, with one pending, along with a recent federal lawsuit involving a $150,000 settlement paid for failure to protect a 9-year-old from bullying.

People should never have to fear stepping forward to report waste, fraud or malfeasance.

As school districts seek additional funding, we need to see how they spend the money.

In spite of both the district’s internal investigation and the Waukee Police Department’s investigation, finding “probably cause to support an arrest,” the Dallas County Attorney’s office has so far declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence.

Now, however, with the report by the auditor of state, we see additional financial abuse emerge in the school board’s and the administrators’ excessive spending on retreat trips, escape rooms, meals, car washes, improper use of school facilities and expensive furniture.

The superintendent tells us the findings fail to reflect the expectations set for the district leaders. Really? Read their human resources mission statement. It’s an insult in comparison to how the district operates.

Here is how we can correct this disgrace:

  1. Offer reinstatement to the employees who suffered under the COO’s abuse of power and ethically challenged officials.
  2. Demand the immediate resignation of the Waukee School Board, the Waukee Superintendent and COO Eric Rose, and replace them with fiscally responsible professionals.
  3. Insist that Iowa legislators amend the Iowa Whistle Blower’s Law in a bipartisan manner. At present it offers no protection even when the accuser’s claims are correct.

Failing to do these things will give all of us taxpayers more of the same. Iowans will pay a new tax, a Corruption Tax to be precise.

Tom Mazza
Clive

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