Fired administrators weigh suing Gardner-Edgerton school board - KCTV5

Fired administrators weigh suing Gardner-Edgerton school board

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GARDNER, KS (KCTV) -

The three school administrators suddenly fired from the Gardner-Edgerton School District are now considering suing as an explosive accusation came to light Wednesday. 

Few details have been released by the four board members who voted to fire the superintendent and two of his top administrators late last month.

"It's hard to explain the irrational," their attorney, Denis Egan of the Popham Law Firm, said Wednesday.

Egan is representing Superintendent Bill Gilhaus and administrators Christy Ziegler and Lana Gerber.

"These people have contract rights, they have reputations that were absolutely sterling," Egan said. "If you fire somebody summarily, you march them out the doors, you change the locks. It's only because of something moral, or you've stolen money. I mean something bad, either criminal or moral turpitude, and there is none of that here."

Egan says the district consistently improved academically under Gilhaus 10-year tenure.

It was revealed Wednesday that Ziegler and Gerber recently lodged gender discrimination complaints against board members Brad Chandler and Rob Shippy who voted to fire the three along with board members Mary Nelson and Tresa Boden. 

Gilhaus brought the two women's complaints forward.

"And then all of a sudden, right after complaints had been filed by my two female clients of inappropriate conduct by the male board members, I mean right after that lands, they are suddenly and without notice, without warning, without any reasons given, they are summarily fired," Egan said.

Three board members opposed the firing. The board's attorney, Joe Hatley, raised questions about the procedures for terminating the three along with whether the meeting met Kansas open-meeting laws.

Hatley and his firm have since given their 90-days notice for representing the district.

While the 4-3 firing has divided the district, some parents say they are glad to see Gilhaus gone.

"There's been a lot of animosity I think among teachers and other people in the district with him as the superintendent," said Erin Moore, a student teacher who now substitute teaches in the district.

Gilhaus' detractors say he drove several staff members out of the district. Moore says there were problems with transparency as well as teacher raises. While she was glad to see him go, she wants more answers now.

"I'm just hoping that we can get things on the right track here because I think there is some focus being taken off the kids," said Moore.

The Gardner News is reporting that an FBI agent interviewed district administrators Tuesday at district headquarters. No one from the district would confirm that to us Wednesday and FBI officials declined comment.

No school board members returned KCTV5's requests for comment.

Interim Superintendent Pam Stranathan issued a short statement.

"On February 27, 2014, the Gardner-Edgerton Board of Education, by a 4-3 vote, determined that it was in the best interest of the District to terminate the employment of administrators Bill Gilhaus, Lana Gerber and Christina Ziegler. Statements of individual Board Members regarding the reasons for these terminations are not, and should not be taken as, the official position of the Gardner-Edgerton School District."

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