Friday, March 6, 2009

What are they thinking?

When I read the article below I was floored. What are they thinking, why wouldn't the sitting board ask George Sleeman to step down? What message does this send to school children? What were the voters thinking? Did the voters know Mr. Sleeman served time for embezzlement? The piece below appeared in the Valley News via the Bennington Banner.

Former superintendent will take school board slot

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- A former Bennington school superintendent who went to jail for embezzling school funds and perjury will accept a position on the school board.

George Sleeman was elected to the board on Tuesday as a write-in candidate.

Sleeman says he didn't know his name was being pushed for the vacant seat on the board of the Bennington School District.

Sleeman says he decided to take the position after speaking to his family and gauging public sentiment.

Sleeman was convicted in 1988 of embezzling $8,425 from school bank accounts and they lying about it. He served 13 months in prison.

State officials say there are no laws to prevent Sleeman from taking the seat.

So after I read the piece above I thought there most be more. So I read the full story in the Bennington Banner. You know what, I still don't get it. What is our world coming to today? Morals and ethics are just not a part of our governments today. Spouses on school boards, teachers in one district serving on boards in another district, ex-embezzlers on school boards, tax cheats running the highest levels of government, never ending nepotism, lobbyist giving gifts, pork filled bills, etc., etc., Too many people in government jobs have hijacked the system as their own entitlement programs.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers.

Sleeman elected to BSD board

JOHN D. WALLER, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/04/2009 03:03:37 AM EST

Wednesday, March 4
BENNINGTON — A former superintendent who was convicted of embezzling school funds and perjury in 1989 was elected to a local school board on Tuesday as a write-in candidate.
George Sleeman, who served as superintendent of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union from 1972 to June 1985, when he was suspended by the board after a $2 million deficit was uncovered, received 45 votes for an uncontested three-year seat on the Bennington School District's Board of Directors.

He defeated Sean-Marie Oller, chairwoman of the Mount Anthony Union School Board, who received 42 votes as a write-in candidate. The Bennington School District is a member district of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.

Sleeman, now in his late-70s, had no idea he was running a write-in campaign, according to local activist Michael Bethel, a friend of Sleeman who orchestrated his campaign behind the scenes. "He didn't know," Bethel said Tuesday night, "but I hope he serves. He said he's going to decide (on Wednesday)."

Repeated attempts to reach Sleeman on Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

He was convicted on eight counts of embezzlement and one count of perjury in 1989 by a Rutland District Court jury. Prosecutors alleged Sleeman embezzled $8,425 from two school bank accounts and lied about it at a 1986 state inquest into the matter.

Sleeman was sentenced to two years in Rutland Community Correctional Center. He served 13 months before being released on a three-month furlough on April 20, 1990. Bethel said it is time for community members to move on. "He's paid his dues," he said, "and everyone in the community speaks highly of him.

"I've gotten to know him over the past few years, and he's a great guy. I'm glad I got him the opportunity to say, 'Yes, I'll be on the board,' but that's his decision. I have the full confidence he'll do the right thing for the children, parents and taxpayers of this community."

Sleeman was also involved in a number of civil suits and counter-suits with local school districts until 1992.

The suits and attempting to recoup portions of the $2 million deficit, which developed from 1978-84, reportedly cost local districts more than $1 million in legal fees and audit costs.

Sleeman, a Bennington resident, has stayed out of the limelight since, only resurfacing once, in 2007, to challenge a comment made about a land deal, involving Molly Stark Elementary School, he oversaw in 1980.

Meridy Leibrock-Capella was the only candidate on the ballot. She earned the other open three-year term. Incumbents Peg Lochner and Jeanne Conner did not seek re-election.

Residents approved a budget of $10,546,410 for fiscal year 2010, 637-326, that reduced spending by $53,250 from the current fiscal year.

They also approved a joint-busing contract, 679-264, between the district and the Mount Anthony Union School District with DuFour, Inc. The contract provides both districts with busing for $720,594, $774,630, $832,770, $855,000 and $896,895, respectively, over the next five years. The contract also includes additional charges for transportation for special education, field trips and athletics.

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