Schools change sites after Call 6 investigation exposes some not following law

Supt. contracts not posted online

INDIANAPOLIS - Several school districts are making changes to their websites after a Call 6 Investigation that exposed some schools that are not following the law.

A law that went into effect July 1, 2012, requires Indiana school districts to post superintendent contracts online, along with those of other certified employees with contracts.

Wednesday’s story by Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney prompted frustrated emails and comments from viewers who said they could not find their school district superintendent’s contract online, including Jesse Stickle, a taxpayer in Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

"We apologize for the oversight," said Jayne Surface, executive assistant for Superintendent John Quick. "We do not have the superintendent’s contract online. We are working on getting that online shortly."

Stickle said he's disappointed that the state has no enforcement power and that schools aren't punished for not complying.

"There should be some consequence, and not at the expense of education of our students," Stickle said.

Lawmakers passed the legislation last session after Kenney exposed former Wayne Township Superintendent Terry Thompson's $1 million retirement payout.

A resident in the Eastern Greene School Corp.'s area also contacted Call 6 to say that the superintendent's contract was not available online.

Kenney spoke with Cathy Sutherlin in human resources with the district. She couldn't find the website but said she would get back with Kenney.

"It's very frustrating," said State Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, adding that the intent of the law is to make the contracts easy for the public to find.

Earlier this week, Kenney contacted Washington Township school officials, who told her the contract was available in the human resources section of the website.

The website read, "The Human Resources Department is also responsible for complying with certain provisions of the Indiana code that are HR specific in nature. (IC 20-26-5)," with no link indicated.

The page did not mention the superintendent's contract, but the link was hidden in the "(IC 20-26-5)" mention.

Kenney checked back late Wednesday and found that Washington Township schools had changed the website and added the verbiage, "Please click this link to access contracts under this law: (IC 20-26-5)"

The site still makes no mention of the superintendent.

Indiana Public Access Counselor Joe Hoage said some school districts need to do a better job and follow the intent of the law.

"It should be something they should be readily able to access and not have to search through the nooks and crannies of the website in order to find it," Hoage said. "I'm not saying they need to be in bold on the first page of the home page, but it has to be something where it can be easily found if the person's intent was to go on the website and find a copy of the contract."

Hoage said there is no punishment in place for districts who do not comply.

"They would just have to answer the embarrassing question of why they're not following the clear mandate of the General Assembly," Hoage said.
           
RTV6 found most superintendent contracts not in the administration section of the websites, but in the human resources or school board pages.
           
If you can't find your school superintendent's contract on the district's website, email Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney at kara.kenney@wrtv.com.

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