PONTIAC (WXYZ) - Jonathon Brown took on the Pontiac School’s top job after being told of the district’s $12 million deficit. But he says he quickly found out that the deficit was more than twice that much--$25 million in all.
Brown was appointed interim superintendent of the school district in July 2011 after serving as a principal for many years. He says after he reported financial misconduct to the state the Pontiac School Board fired him.
“It is our position in this case that there is only one reason that Mr. Brown is out of a job and that’s because he was doing his job as a public civil servant,” says attorney Deborah Gordon, who represents Brown.
Brown says that the shock of learning that the district was facing a $25 million deficit resulted in him looking closely at how money was spent.
After a month-long investigation, Brown wrote a letter to the state superintendent, claiming a long list of financial misconduct, which included the misuse of school district credit cards. The state quickly wrote back with the deputy state superintendent seeking more details.
“They’d asked for a meeting, he had sent a letter, and within a couple of weeks, he was out of a job,” says attorney Gordon.
Brown has now filed a whistle blower lawsuit against the Pontiac School District, demanding his job back. It names current Pontiac School Board President Trustee Damon Dorkins, and three other board members.
In a press release the board issued, they say Brown was not fired, but abandoned his job.
“That’s extremely bizarre,” says Gordon of the school boards’ claim. “The concept that an acting superintendent of the caliber of Jonathan Brown would abandon his job is illogical on its face.”
Gordon also says the districts claim that a board meeting decided Brown should be fired isn’t true, because four board members, short of the full seven-member body, behind closed doors does not constitute a legal vote.
“You had a subset of the board,” explains Gordon, “the four individuals we’ve named as defendants. The other board members weren’t involved in this, and to suggest that there was some kind of closed door meeting is just disingenuous."
It will be months before the whistle blower lawsuit gets to court. But the state is still interested in Brown's investigation and findings of misconduct.
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