Lawsuit Reveals Why Lincolnwood SD 74 Terminated Business Superintendent
Former Superintendent of Business at Lincolnwood District 74 is suing the school board for $250,000, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated. However, legal documents reveal a different side to the story. (Read lawsuit in its entirety here)
Editor's note: Skokie Patch has posted the lawsuit in its entirety above. You can scroll down using the bar to the right of the document. You can also find the "zoom in" option by clicking the magnifying glass at the bottom of the image.
New details have emerged regarding the termination of former Lincolnwood School District 74's superintendent of business Kevin Nohelty. The document also indicates why Nohelty was placed on administrative leave.
Nohelty, who filed a lawsuit against School District 74, alleges that he was wrongfully terminated by the school board on June 13. He is seeking $250,000 plus the cost of legal fees, according to complaint. Nohelty also alleges that his firing caused him "emotional distress," according to the suit.
The complaint specifically lists board members Scott Anderson, John Vranas, Kevin Daly and Georjean Nickell as defendants. The aforementioned voted 4-0 to terminate Nohelty.
According to the suit, then superintendent Mark Klaisner was "under substantial public scrutiny for questionable spending practices." On March 9, the school board asked Klaisner, Nohelty and then assistant superintendent Susan Brandt for their immediate resignations, according to the suit. Ultimately, Klaisner would resign and Brandt retired. However, Nohelty declined to leave the school district.
Nohelty alleges that he was fired because he refused to resign. He also cited that he received a stellar evaluation by the school board prior to his termination (see PDF).
Nohelty was primarily in charge of the school's finances. He was widely criticized for not seeking a non-profit tax exemption for the former superintendent's 'company car,' which cost taxpayers $3,922 instead of $15, according to documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act.
The school board provided the following bullet points as to why they terminated Nohelty. Some of the highlights state that Nohelty intentionally hid documents from residents seeking FOIA requests on district financials. It was also noted several times that Nohelty failed to do his duties adequately, lied about information regarding financials and did not disclose information at school board meetings.
Please note, the information below was taken directly from the complaint and is not the opinion of Skokie Patch:
The School Board of Lincolnwood School District 74 hereby provides notices of the charges to be presented as just cause to remove Dr. Kevin J. Nohelty ("Respondent") from the position of Assistant Superintendent for Business for the District.
Respondent is charged with the following instances of misconduct and non-performance and the resulting damages and/or unacceptable exposure to risk of damages to the District in the Respondent:
- During the summer of 2011, lied and/or recklessly represented to an auditor regarding his accounting responsibilities when question about the existence of inaccurate/negative balances in District accounts. The statement to the auditor was made in the presence of Irene Nowak;
- concealed and/or recklessly failed to disclose to the District Finance Committee the District's auditors' Management Report, dated Oct. 27, 2011, outlining deficiencies in the District's internal financial controls to the District Finance Committee;
- concealed and/or recklessly failed to disclose the Oct. 27, 2011 Management Report to the District at any School Board meeting;
- in a Jan. 17, 2012 letter, responded to a FOIA request to the District seeking "the most recent report on internal controls furnished by your auditor," by misrepresenting that the District was not in possession of such records when it was;
II. Nonperformance of Significant Responsibilities
- failed to facilitate implementation of the iVision system or properly address concerns by staff caused by inaccuracies within the iVision system;
- improperly accounted for District's legal expenditures and used levy funds to pay District's non-tort legal fees;
- failed to properly account for District funds and to balance the District's books (including accounts and sub-accounts) and financial records;
- allowed the District to fail to make three scheduled payments a $15m Note to the Northern Trust Co. causing a default under that note;
- failed to timely advise Northern Trust Co. that on or about Dec. 19, 2011, the District had abandoned the $15m Note;
- allowed the District to fail to make a scheduled December 1, 2011 payment on a $7m Note, causing a default under that note;
- provided District residents and School Board members with incorrect/incomplete financial information at a Feb. 2, 2012 District School Board meeting regarding furniture expenditures and failing adequately to account for $1.4m in funds;
- permitted the District to pay sales tax on superintendent's car despite the applicability of a sales tax exemption;
- failed to provide sufficient oversight on expenditures by "rubberstamping" inappropriate or questionable Board Member P-Card expenses;
- misplaced/concealed/couldn't account for a check representing a state grant payments despite numerous inquiries as to whether the check had been received;
- failed to timely convey to the District lawyers notices concerning the alleged improper expenditure of federal grant funds, thus exposing the District to loss of certain appurtenant legal rights;
- placed his personal interests ahead of the interests of the District and its constituents by taking vacation just prior to the 2012 vote on the Districts funding referendum and failed to respond to the changing demands of the job by failing (to) work harder when job demanded it.
- exposed the District to violation of FOIA (5 ILCS 140/ll(j)) and to associated fines;
- defaults on notes threaten District's superior bond rating;
- exasperated the community concern regarding the competence of School Board;
- threatened student activities;
- Exposed the District to loss of funds; and
- exposed the District to all negative implications of failure to maintain accounting books and records.