Superintendent Lawsuit Blasted As Waste Of Money

Wayne Township Schools Accuses Terry Thompson Of Defrauding District

Some Wayne Township taxpayers are calling the school district's lawsuit against former superintendent Terry Thompson a waste of taxpayer money.

The lawsuit alleges that Thompson used his attorneys to manipulate his contracts and the school board, and devised an elaborate, complex and deceitful scheme to defraud the district of millions of dollars in salary and compensation.

But taxpayer Julie Marvel, president of the Chapel Hill Village Neighborhood Association, told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney that the lawsuit points the finger in the wrong direction.

"The school board did not do their jobs in this case," Marvel said. "They did not go to the extent that they should have in reading the contracts before they signed them."

The lawsuit alleges that Thompson began manipulating his contracts beginning in 2004, proof Marvel said school board members had plenty of time to react.

She also pointed the finger at Jon Bailey, the district's former attorney, who also signed off on Thompson's now notorious $1 million retirement payout, first exposed by the Call 6 Investigators in January.

"As public officials, it was their responsibility to ask questions and the attorney's to explain the contents of the contracts, not Dr. Thompson's," Marvel said. "It seems like there's no checks and balances."

The Call 6 Investigators obtained invoices and discovered the district has spent more than $243,651 so far on legal fees associated with the Thompson investigation.

"I think this (lawsuit) is yet another waste of taxpayer money," Marvel said.

School board members did not want to discuss the lawsuit Wednesday.

Attorney Linda Pence, who filed the complaint on behalf of the school district, said they are trying to recoup more than $1 million from Thompson.

"We want to recover these funds that were taken from the district, and we want it back to the district so that it can be used for education," Pence said. "When someone has taken something from you in an inappropriate manner, you can't let it go. You have to pursue it."

Pence also rejected criticism that the board did not do enough.

"These are good people who work very hard to do a very hard job, and they trust and rely on the superintendent," Pence said. "These are unusual contracts, they are complicated. I'm telling you, it took me about 40 hours myself, and I have some degrees, to understand what the contracts meant."

Pence would not say whether the district will sue Bailey or his law firm, Bose McKinney and Evans.

The school district is asking Thompson to pay back any unauthorized funds, as well as attorneys fees.

Thompson, who has a $500,000 home in Carmel and a $300,000 condo in Naples, Fla., has refused all on-camera interviews. In a statement, he called the lawsuit "totally inappropriate."

"None of Dr. Thompson's employment contracts, including the ones involved in this lawsuit, were completed until signed by both the school board and the school board's attorney," the statement read.

Pence told RTV6 she believes Thompson committed a crime by defrauding the district. Yet, neither police nor prosecutors said they had not been contacted by the district regarding a criminal investigation or charges.

This January, state lawmakers will discuss legislation that would require specific dollar amounts be listed in a superintendent's contract.

Pence told RTV6 she was unaware of any similar lawsuits filed against school superintendents in Indiana history.

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