NAMPA -- A woman claims she warned the Nampa School District over a year ago that there may be financial mismanagement problems. Danielle Sisayaket says she was fired for voicing her concerns. She filed a lawsuit against the district.
It seems like recent events indicate maybe they should have listened to her, said attorney Breck Seiniger who is representing Sisayaket.
The Nampa School District denies any wrongdoing. It released a statement that reads in part: The accountant's position was eliminated as a reduction-in-force measure in classified staff because of cuts in state funding and reported as such to the state. Sisayaket was let go in September of 2011.
Sisayaket was an accountant for the Nampa School District.
She was concerned that there was waste going on, she tried to bring it to the attention of the people that were appropriate, said Seiniger. Her job was to look for fraud. And she felt she found it.
The lawsuit says Sisayaket was concerned accounting was not being done properly and that taxpayer funds were being wasted. She also felt that the public had a right to know what public money was actually being spent on without being mislead by misclassification or miscategorization of accounting entries.
The district investigated the concerns about record-keeping errors and expenditures of funds as they were brought to our attention. The district found no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity, the Nampa School District said in a statement.
When the district responded to the lawsuit it denied any mismanagement was going on. An excerpt from the defendants response says, At the time of the reports alleged in the Complaint, Plaintiff (Sisayaket) knew or should have known the reports were malicious, false or frivolous.
There is nothing frivolous whatsoever about what she did, said Seiniger. She did it in good faith, she may have been right, she may have been wrong, and the facts will bear that out.
Seiniger says the issue isn't whether or not the former accountant was right or wrong. He says the real issue is whether or not an employee is protected when they bring concerns to their boss.
If you are in the position where when you bring it to someone's attention and they can turn around and go after you for attorney's fees, that is going to have a chilling effect, said Seiniger. People are going to be afraid to do it, why should I stick my neck out because they are not going to believe what I say anyway.
The Nampa School District is currently facing a $2.8 million budget shortfall for this school year. The district says that shortfall is not related to Sisayaket's claims.
Gary Larsen, the superintendent of the Nampa School District, resigned Tuesday night. The school board says the budget shortfall played a role in his resignation.
However, Seiniger says in light of recent events he feels Sisayaket deserves a public apology from the Nampa School District.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in April of 2013.