Litigation Unveils Early Stages of Sebring Debacle

Resolution of a legal clash over a closed-door meeting is lifting the veil on the beginning stages of a firestorm.

It involves the case of Nancy Sebring who was chosen as the new superintendent for the Omaha Public Schools and then resigned after news came out that she was using her Des Moines school computer to write racy email to her lover.

We’re now getting a glimpse of how the Des Moines district handled her pending resignation.

Audio from a closed-door meeting has been released and in that recording, one member predicted that things wouldn’t stay quiet for long.

“There's going to be a media circus taking place regarding what's going on now,” he said. “It's going on in Omaha and it's going to go on in Des Moines and it's going to be a big story. And if there's going to be a circus and they're going to make accusations, so forth and so on, we need to operate like we're in a bubble."

The audio was released to end a lawsuit. That litigation challenged the closed-door meeting last year.

Polk County Judge Karen Romano approved the settlement Tuesday between the Des Moines School Board and former board member Graham Gillette. The board agreed to release audio and transcripts from a portion of an 80-minute meeting in May 2012 about Sebring.

The settlement also includes the board's acknowledgement that it acted inappropriately by discussing matters that should have been public.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa filed the lawsuit on behalf of Gillette, who says he was denied access to meeting records. Romano ruled over the summer that most of the meeting was closed properly.


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