The recent $7.5 million settlement in Heery case severely shortchanged the taxpayers and children in DeKalb County. Heery over billed and mismanaged the DeKalb Schools’ SPLOST program to the tune of approximately $100 million. I know that the case would not have settled for the full amount, however, we could have gotten $25-30 million in the settlement. That settlement range would have made DeKalb taxpayer whole. The court appointed “Special Master” assigned to review the claims of DeKalb and Heery all but dismissed Heery’s claims against DeKalb and found that DeKalb’s claims of over $33 million were credible. If you are confused by the “spin” from the current DeKalb administration and the media, take confidence in the Special Master’s findings. We should hold the Board of Education and administration accountable for not demanding a more favorable settlement.
The current Board of Education seemed held captive by a few people with narrow interest and did not receive a full briefing about the Heery case. The Superintendent seemed all too eager to want to check off a political block regarding the case. He and others have touted the settlement as a way to reduce DeKalb’s legal fees and inprove DeKalb’s bond rating. Nothing could be further from the truth. The school district long ago stopped paying King and Spalding legal fees for this case. The ongoing representative in this case was going to be at no cost to the district.
The Board of Education on which I served continued the suit for two reasons. We saw and studied the evidence that was compelling and we wanted to pay the taxpayer back from a suit that started before I even joined the Board of Education.
The public deserved better disclosure regarding the relationships that one board member* had with Heery and attorneys that represented them. Campaign disclosures show that a partner in Heery’s law firm contributed $500 to a board member. The same board member serves on a local board alongside a Vice President of Heery International. The board member should have recused himself from settlement discussions and the vote. Instead, he boldly took credit for the outcome in the media. DeKalb citizens should demand answers regarding this settlement and the relationships between various parties and board members.
I am not the most popular guy in DeKalb, but I tried to do the right thing for the district. If I were involved in these conflicts of interest, do you think the media would just let it go?
Quiz your current board members on the facts in this case and see what they really know.
This settlement sold out the children and tax payers’ of DeKalb County in order to gain political points.
I am angry and you should be too.
– H. Paul Womack, Jr.
+++[*DSW Note: He is referring to Marshall Orson in these statements]