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By RON ETIENNE, Guest Columnist
During the recent past, I have learned that individuals in the community have taken it upon themselves to spread false and malicious rumors about me.
The first of these involves my taking “kickbacks” from the various building projects which have been accomplished in this school corporation over the past five years. I initially heard of this rumor at the time of the last referendum when someone opposing the referendum (a current school board candidate) informed me that he voted against the referendum because “Ron Etienne was on the take.”
Of course, he would not reveal his source. Now, during the current referendum and school board election, the rumor has surfaced again according to many sources.
If these rumors had any basis in fact, the State Board of Accounts, which audits the books of our school corporation every two years, would have learned and reported these actions in their audit reports. Since taking “kickbacks” is a crime, my superintendent’s license would have been revoked and I would be facing criminal prosecution.
The second rumor alleges that I have “bankrupted” every school corporation where I have previously worked. This is categorically untrue. I was employed as superintendent at Southeast Dubois County School Corp. from 1985 to 1990 and at North Spencer County School Corp. from 1990 to 2003.
Neither school corporation was bankrupt when I left. In fact, facilities and programs were among the best in the area and operating funds were plentiful. During my tenure as superintendent of each of these three school corporations, I have had to make tough decisions and I am sure that I have not always made everyone happy with my decisions.
I can also attest that all of my decisions were always made in the best interests of the students, employees, and taxpayers of these corporations.
It is an admirable concept in our country that citizens are allowed to influence their public institutions through voting, such as is presently occurring on both the referendum and the newly enacted elected school board for our school corporation.
Unfortunately, however, there is sometimes a dark side to this process, which you are witnessing with the spreading of these rumors. It is indeed unfortunate that a few individuals in the community resort to malicious lies in order to promote their position.
I would ask that any voter who is approached by anyone, either for or against the referendum, or promoting themselves or another candidate in the school board election, by using these personal attacks against either me or anyone else who has been involved in the school corporation, to consider the character of these people in determining whether to put them in control of the future of our school corporation.
Etienne is superintendent of the Tell City-Troy Township School Corp.