After watching as the Joplin Globe steadfastly ignored all of the problems surrounding the C. J. Huff Administration and the Joplin R-8 School District for seven years, it was refreshing to read that in other communities, the newspaper is actually willing to investigate wrongdoing by public officials.
An investigation by the newspaper in McAlester, Oklahoma, uncovered some dirty dealings in that city's school district.
That investigation by the McAlester News-Capital apparently has led to discussions to dismiss the district's superintendent:
Their desks and a conference room table are stacked with documents they've received through open records requests.
“It's been a roller coaster ride of trying to get access to the records. They did, eventually, hand over many of them, and we're pursuing more,” editor Glen Puit said. “You're talking about a school district that has tens of millions of dollars in public money, and so it's all public record, and how this taxpayer money is spent is important.”
Puit’s calculations show, in just the past few years, administrators have spent more than $300,000 in taxpayer money on travel, food, mileage and conference registrations.
“They have traveled all across the country. They've been to places like Portland, Atlanta, Nashville, Washington D.C....staying in some very nice hotels,” he said.
Money for those expenses came from a central office administrative account.
“That fund has blossomed almost tenfold in the last few years, as far as the money going into and what's been spent out of it,” Puit said.
The investigation also found Superintendent Dr. Marsha Gore, her husband, and former sister-in-law are three of the top four highest paid employees in the district.