SEBRING LAWSUIT: School District Wants Case Tossed

The Des Moines School District is asking that a lawsuit filed by former superintendent Nancy Sebring be dismissed.

A hearing was held in Polk County court Wednesday morning on the matter, but a judge has yet to make a decision.

Sebring resigned her position as superintendent in May of 2012 after open records requests by the Des Moines Register and the Omaha World Herald revealed sexually explicit e-mails Sebring sent from her school computer using her district e-mail account.

Sebring is suing, claiming the e-mails released were of a personal nature. She claims former school board president Teree Caldwell-Johnson and district spokesman Phil Roeder tipped off the Des Moines Register about the content of the e-mails and that they didn’t have to release the e-mails as part of the open records request but did so anyway.

Sebring says the release of the e-mails has damaged her career, leaving her unemployed.

“The case at its core is about the destruction of Dr. Sebrings career and the destruction by the actions of the defendants, not by just releasing the emails but setting up the whole situation that led to the release of those emails,” says Sebrings Attorney Tom Foley.

Sebring had been leaving the Des Moines district before she resigned to accept a superintendent position with the Omaha School District. After the e-mails came to light Sebring resigned from the Omaha position as well.

The district agues it could have been sued had it not complied with the Des Moines Register’s open records request.

“The district complied with the law and was obligated to disclose those emails in response to the request they can`t be held legally libel for it,” says District Attorney Patrick Smith.

The judge is taking all of this under consideration, and didn’t give any indication as to when he might issue a ruling.

If he rules in Sebring’s favor her trial will begin November 3.

Sebring’s lawsuit names the school district, Caldwell-Johnson, Roeder, and school district attorney Patricia Lantz as defendants.


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