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Board’s ethics hearing clears athletic director

by Cynthia Howell | December 13, 2011 at 6:12 a.m.

— The Arkansas Board of Education held a nearly three-hour hearing Monday on allegations that an athletic director violated the state’s ethics code for teachers over whether he followed proper bidding procedures.

But the board — which expressed concern during the unusually long hearing about the “murky” guidance and “iffy” rules in the district and their own inability to discern whose sworn, but conflicting testimony was truthful — unanimously decided in favor of Clarksville School District Athletic Director Gary Thompson.

Thompson was accused by his superintendent of improperly acquiring competitive bids for athletic equipment in violation of the state’s Code of Ethics for educators.

The Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board sub-committee on ethics had investigated the initial complaint made by Clarksville Superintendent David Hopkins against Thompson.

The subcommittee recommended that the state Education Board place Thompson on probation and fine him $75 for violating the standard that says educators entrusted with public funds and property “honor that trust with honest and responsible stewardship.”

Thompson challenged the recommendation, resulting in a hearing before the Education Board on the allegation that he asked one company to obtain competitive bids from other companies for the Clarksville School District athletic equipment rather than soliciting the bids from each company himself.

Thompson argued that he went to David Stobaugh, the owner of Northwestern Sporting Goods in Morrilton, and made the request for the bids at the direction of Steve Wyatt, who was the high school principal and his supervisor at the time. Wyatt is now an assistant superintendent in the Clarksville district.

Wyatt told the board that he directed Thompson to get competitive bids, but didn’t tell him where to get them.

Front Section, Pages 3 on 12/13/2011

Print Headline: Board’s ethics hearing clears athletic director

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