According to a recent lawsuit filed by an ex-employee of the Grand Prairie ISD, former superintendent Susan Simpson Hull fired that employee after they told an investigator about financial wrongdoing in the district.
The lawsuit was filed in July, but first became public knowledge in late November.
The lawsuit alleges the district hid certain purchases from the school board by splitting up invoices so they would fall below the required $50,000 minimum, which is the amount under state law that requires school board approval and public notice.
Hull had been in the news because the school board allowed the purchase of a $700,000 she lived in as a tenant, paying $2,000 a month in rent. Local news had reported renovations on the property went past budgeted amounts, and these expenses were split on at least one occasion to stay under the $50,000 mark. Hull had also received criticism for unusually high salaries and bonuses.
Hull died in an accident a week after firing the employee who reported this information. The district claims the whistleblower, Robert Hawkland, was speaking to investigators hired by the district as part of his job duties with the district, and that he should not be afforded any free-speech protections in the matter. Hawkland’s attorney disagrees with this assessment, saying Hawkland was forced to cooperate with the investigation, and after giving truthful statements to investigators he was immediately retaliated against. He was first excluded from meetings and had his budget slashed, and then he was ultimately fired.
For more information about your rights as a whistleblower and what to do if you have been wrongfully terminated after speaking out about wrongdoing, contact an experienced attorney at Kardell Law Group today.