Wednesday, May 25, 2011

School Superintendent Vindicated !

Open Letter to the Garden Valley School District

To the parents, patrons, faculty and staff of the Garden Valley School District, and readers of the Garden Valley Daily News, you are undoubtedly aware of the continued and ongoing controversy involving the school district, Board of Trustees, and Superintendent of the District. This controversy has been distracting, hurtful to many, and expensive. It must stop.

For the last six months our school district has been in the process of investigating numerous complaints filed against Dr. Tomlin as district superintendent. These complaints were filed by David and Kathleen Gardner. The complaints, ranging over nearly 20 months, charged Superintendent Tomlin with harassment, intimidation, retaliation, violation of district policy and violations of Idaho Code.

Months ago, Superintendent Tomlin met with the Gardners, attempting to resolve these issues and their concerns, providing them with copies of district policy, Idaho Code, email communications and other documents that should have set their concerns to rest. The Gardners insisted on a hearing with the Board of Trustees.

That hearing has been held, and David and Kathleen Gardner presented their charges. The Board of Trustees has now completed its investigation and on May 10, 2011, they signed and sent a 16 page letter to the parties involved. To the complaints against Superintendent Tomlin, the Board “did not and could not find merit” in any of them. It was the finding of the Board that his actions as Superintendent were “legally appropriate as well as best business practices.” And “With due respect to the Gardners, this situation appears to be nothing more than someone looking to make a problem where there is no factual basis for such.”

It is regrettable that so many months of gossip, innuendo, newspaper and television reports, and disruption of the school district and community have taken place. It is regrettable that many thousands of dollars were spent to investigate ridiculous and unfounded charges. And the Board writes the “…wrongfully damaging and wrongfully destroying…” of Dr. Tomlin’s “profession, character, and job status” is “truly unfortunate.”

We ask any patron intent on going down this road next respectfully to reconsider. The emotional cost to our community is incalculable, and the dollar cost comes right out of the supplies and wages of those who teach our children. Please support our school district, don’t tear it down. Thank you.

Supporters of the Garden Valley School District

Superintendent Tomlin responded to the findings of the board:

"I am gratified to be cleared, and I appreciate the Board's hard work through the hearing process and all, resulting in this decision. I regret very much the community turmoil these people caused. I am angry about the unfounded and in fact stupid accusations, and I am angrier still about the $4,000 in legal fees they forced the Board to spend on the process. I believe the Gardners should pay every penny back to the district."


  1. What document? Where did it come from? And this has not been a distraction in the community until now. I didn't hear about it until you "reported" it.

  2. After re-reading the post I see that the 16-page letter was sent to the parties involved. Since this did not come out from the board or from the Gardners, the only other person involved would be Mr. Tomlin himself. Why hide behind "supporters of GVSD"? Why not just sign your name?

    And as for the legal fees, I hope everyone realizes that the attorneys for the district are not judges - they are paid by the district to defend the district. There should be no surprise that the district's own legal counsel would find in their favor.

    I'm not sure about the Gardner's personal situation but I'm sure if they had hired an attorney, their attorney would have found in favor of them. The difference is Tomlin gets to use the district to pay the bills.

  3. gvparent, ask for a copy of the letter and read it. I did. It explains in great detail the lengths that the Gardners went trying to tear Tomlin down. It explains how they contradicted themselves several times and saw boogey-men in email exchanges that weren't there. It explains why Kathleen Gardner was removed from the substitute teacher list. It addresses all of their complaints and proves them unfounded. Get a copy and read it.

  4. You went in and asked for a letter sent to the paties involved? Why would you be allowed to read it?

  5. This is a public document; anyone may read it and share it. If you would like a copy, send your e-mail address to and I will be happy to send the pdf.

    The Gardners made many defamatory accusations against Dr. Tomlin. This is a great question, gvparent--why did no one but supporters of Mike Tomlin make these findings public? Ask the board. Ask the Gardners (by the way, do you really think the Gardners kept these accusations to themselves?). Ask the IW. Ask Channel 7. Why is it, when these people think they have something on Mike, they make sure it's all over the paper and the TV news? When Mike is vindicated and proven to be innocent, it's not news...something stinks and its not fish this time, huh Frazier?

  6. I asked Dr. Tomlin for a copy and he provided one. It was on school letterhead and a copy had been sent to him since he was the accused. It was within his rights to show the letter to anyone he would like to.

  7. So who wrote the post?

    Like I said, I'm sure if the Gardners were spending someone else's money, they would have gotten a legal opinion in their favor too.

    He is not vindicated - he was lawyered up. There's a difference.

    And edunn just happens to know when a letter shows up at the school? Whatever.

    It's Mike who continually keeps these things stirred up in the public. The Gardner's could have blasted it all over the blogs but I sure didn't see anything like that. I did see edunn accuse Kathleen of something she didn't do and later recant.

    If there was a complaint against Tomlin, it was not out there for public consumption. But now it is - thanks once again to Tomlin. Yes something stinks around here. Good grief.

  8. Number 1: This was a frivolous money-taken-out of the mouths of our children complaint. After a 5 hour hearing, WHERE THE BOARD SAT IN JUDGEMENT, listening to both sides, the Gardner's & Tomlin looking at all the supporting documentation and listening to both sides, the BOARD is the judge and determines the outcome....NOT the boards attorney (again, the BOARDS attorney, not Tomlin's own personal attorney, he'd have to hire one of his own if he wanted that)

    Number 2: Why on earth would the Gardner's blast it all over the blog when they lost? Who wants to brag about wasting 4000.00 of the schools money for nothing?

    And finally number 3 (the big one): Why has the community not heard about this until now? The Gardners wanted to keep it quiet, since it was such a joke,and knew they had spent 4000.00 of the kids money here at the school, and the board kept it quiet because they knew they were going to have to support Tomlin since he won, and didn't want that out in the public that they, as a group, agreed to support him, knowing the flack they would receive from the community.

  9. If the board sat in judgement why was there a bill for $4K? Aren't they volunteers?

    And I've done a little research - all is not as it appears but that's no big surprise.

  10. gvparent:
    "And I've done a little research - all is not as it appears but that's no big surprise."

    OK, speaking of vague accusations...would you care to be more specific? Perhaps share the results of your "research" here?

  11. gvparent,

    The board members are volunteer, however they are a "lay" board and not experts in school or other laws. They employ their legal counsel to guide them on issues of law. The attorney presumably had prep work as it is common knowledge the Gardner's complaint was almost 100 pages.

    Then a half-day hearing, then sifting through numerous pages of notes and facts, communicating with the Board, and then when the Board made its decisions it would be the attorney who wrote the actual judgment. $4,000 sounds cheap for that much legal work. That is how these things typically happen.

    We don't know if the Gardner's were guided by counsel or not. Tomlin likely was even if he didn't have him/her at the hearing.

    The post above, I see is a copy of what was published in the Idaho World. That is good. I hope people get a bit real and quit wasting our money on fools errands. Maybe the lesson to the Gardners will be a lesson to others.

    Just maybe others will wait to see how much this ends up costing the Gardners.

  12. Horseracer...I couldn't agree more. And yet, this woman is ready to come on board and be a trustee??? What on earth is wrong with this valley? Why would you let someone be on the board that clearly was after the super? How is that fair? I hope the sup has a great lawyer and is watching every move she makes when she gets on board. Talk about retaliation! This woman has taken 4000.00 away from the school for accusations that were proven false, and you people are OK with that? Do you know how many teachers would love to have a share of that 4000.00! How many office supplies it could buy? How dare they in such hard times waste taxpayer money like that!

  13. I agree the Gardners should pay every penny back.

  14. This is just business as usual for an administrator who pushes people to file formal complaints rather than deal with the issues head-on. The simplest issues turn into gigantic deals and they just don't have to. The super gets to use the district checkbook to fight his battles while the common person cannot afford to do that. The district can't either but here we are...........again.

    This isn't the only place the administrator in question has used lawyers and legal threats as a weapon.

    This issue could have been solved months ago without lawyers if the leadership in the district really wanted to.

  15. gvparent,

    You are simply uninformed. I tried multiple times to meet with the Gardners, they refused. It was only after the Board's attorney (at district expense) told them they must follow the district's complaint policy that they agreed to a meeting.

    Months ago we met, and went through each complaint, resolving several as attested by their signature. They then demanded a board hearing on the rest.

    At the hearing the Gardners disavowed having resolved any issues - and the 16 page verdict references that.

    The board heard the complaints, with its attorney advising them on legalities. I consulted with my personal attorney at my expense in preparation for the hearing. The board found the complaints groundless - read the verdict.

    I did not want the hearing. I did not want to spend personal funds on my attorney, especially given the ridiculous charges. I did not want the months of distractions, emails, blogs, gossip, etc. I wanted it to go away.

    I tried to resolve it with the Gardners. They refused. They demanded the hearing. The board rendered the same result on the same points of law and policy that David and Kathleen were already aware of - and that I provided to them in my office. They evidently preferred a $4,000 judgment to tell them the same thing.

    Mike Tomlin

  16. There were not months of blogs, gossip and e-mails - at least not from the Gardners. Had they been offered the opportunity to meet with the board months ago (as they requested) instead of being put on a perpetual merry-go-round and met with road blocks along the way, this would have been resolved with no additional legal expenses.

  17. And you're not being quite forthright about meetings with the Gardners.

    And please let me say again - the attorney for the district is there to represent and defend the district. Would be expect them to advise the board in any other way? Had the Gardners had legal representation or should they choose to go that route now, I'm sure the outcome would have been different.

    Perhaps we could fit some Conflict Resolution classes into the next budget for the administration.