SEBRING SAGA: Closed Meeting Tapes Released

The Des Moines school board now admits it discussed ways to handle the pending resignation of former superintendent Nancy Sebring during a closed-door meeting in 2012.

In order to end a lawsuit Tuesday, the board released portions of a closed-door meeting on May 10th, 2012 that violated the state’s open records law.

The meeting focused on how to deal with the dozens of sexually-charged emails written on a district computer by then superintendent Dr. Nancy Sebring and not the stated reason, a personnel matter.

Sebring was planning to resign from the position on June 30, 2012 to take up a position in Omaha. But after being confronted with the emails Sebring resigned effective immediately on May 10, 2012.

Listen to the tapes

During the closed-door meeting, board members discussed the resignation and came up with a story to cover Sebring’s abrupt resignation.

“I think that to the extent that people ask you questions etc., you know you get hit up in the grocery store, you know I think it’s easy to go to ‘you know what she wants to have some additional time to prepare herself and she realized that, you know she wasn’t giving herself anytime to think.’”

During the behind closed doors meeting, board chair Teree Caldwell-Johnson stressed to members how important it was for them to stick to the story.

“There are going to be a lot of matters that come before us over the course of the next year that are going to require the utmost levels of confidence.  More importantly if I don’t think that I can trust the people on my team I’m not for sure I want to be on the team.  That’s a problem, and if you’re asking me to lead the team I’ve got to know that the people behind me are in lock step,” tapes released by court order reveal.

Following the meeting, Caldwell-Johnson went directly to the media with the story.

“She has now come to the conclusion that there are probable some things she really needs to get accomplished before she’s ready to launch in Omaha,” Caldwell-Johnston told reporters in May 2012.

Sebring resigned from her soon-to-be position at the Omaha school district when the scandalous emails surfaced three weeks later.

The Omaha school board president followed suit and resigned in January 2013. Not before the recipient of Dr. Sebring’s racy emails was relieved of his position as captain in the Army.

In June of this year, the saga continued when Sebring filed a lawsuit against the district, three school board members, the district’s general counsel and its communications director for releasing the emails. A move that was labelled at the time as “unbelievable” by the superintendent that replaced Sebring, Tom Ahart.


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