Gary Bechtel, Bibb County Board of Education
School board member Gary Bechtel says Supt. Romain Dallemand has gone on a "witchhunt" against him by releasing an audit of school board members' emails.
The outside audit says Bibb County school board members used district email to get involved in hiring and bidding matters, request favors for family members and conduct personal business.
The forensic audit, by the Minnesota firm McGladrey LLP, is posted to the school board's web site.
Bechtel says all of those anonymous cases cited in the audit involve him, and he feels targeted by the district's management.
"This is, I think, his use of taxpayer money to carry out a political and personal vendetta against someone who dares to oppose him."
Despite the wording in the audit, he says he's done nothing wrong.
He said those cases are very selective and intended to target him and school board member Susan Sipe, both frequent critics of Dallemand and both running for public office.
'They're releasing a partial report, and I think the timing is suspect," said Bechtel. "I am involved in a county commission race where the polls open and close on July 31st. Ms. Sipe is involved in a board of education race."
And he threatened legal action against Dallemand, adding, "He might be under oath soon. This ain't over."
Bechtel says the audit was released to the entire board under attorney-client privilege, and he wonders why the district has released it.
He said the district should review all emails from all board members -- and Dallemand, who took over in January, 2011.
Bechtel says he expects the board to review the audit at a 4 p.m. subcommittee meeting and possibly again at the full board meeting at 6 p.m.
The audit lists 19 "exhibits" that describe alleged violations of the district's email policies by unnamed board members.
"They're out of context. I'm not gonna apologize for any of these. I represent a good deal of tax payers form district 6. Many of them contacted me for the purpose of getting answers to questions as it relates to business with the board, as related to positions with the board, and I forwarded a lot of information that was brought tome by my constituents to the proper people within the district- superintendent, other administrative personnel.
"I've sent e-mails related to my children, and no different from what a lot of other parents do," said Bechtel.
For example, some of the excerpted e-mails read:
A school board member who allegedly "recommended and became involved in the employment pursuit and student shadowing of a teacher for several individuals, including his daughter."
A member who viewed bids on seven school buses, favored one bidder and spoke to the bidder about eliminating the price differential. "
"His actions or insider influence' appear to have affected the outcome of the bidding process," the audit says.
A board member who directed staff "to charge the maximum amount allowable for a Freedom of Information Act request."
"A board member requested sensitive HR-related information from staff in conjunction with loans to be made by the bank at which he is employed, outside of the normal processing channels."
Bechtel works for Certus Bank, but says he's never used his board position to benefit his own business.
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