Marshall superintendent walks out of hearing

January 17, 2008

MARSHALL — Marshall schools Superintendent Robert Gordon walked out of a public hearing Thursday night in the auditorium of Bueker Middle School.

Gordon waived his right to the due process hearing -- which he had requested to answer charges filed by the board in December -- after his opening statement.

"It has become clear to me that there is one objective here," Gordon said.

The hearing was to be an opportunity for Gordon to answer the board’s allegations of incompetence, inefficiency, insubordination, and others stemming from a budget deficit of $640,000 in the 2006-2007 school year.

Gordon was interrupted by board President Jay Barton several times during his statement. Barton said the statement was supposed to be an overview of the evidence Gordon would present, not an argument.

Gordon's lawyer, Douglas W. Hennon, tried to finish the opening statement, and was also cut off by Barton. Gordon finished the opening statement by waiving his right to the hearing.

"It is obvious to me that the board has made its decision," Gordon said.

Gordon and Hennon walked off the stage and out of the auditorium as some of the more than 200 audience members stood and applauded.

Some members of the audience followed Gordon to the hall, where he was greeted, hugged and offered support.

Gordon said he left the hearing because "It served no purpose. The board has already decided the outcome of this,” he said.

The board called a 10-minute recess, then resumed the hearing without Gordon.

The only witness called was Deputy Superintendent Rick Radford, who told the board he discovered problems in the budget in November 2006, and was told by Gordon not to tell the board about the budget problems.

"He asked me to lie about it. He asked me to hide it. He asked me not to tell the board," Radford said.

Radford detailed a number of errors in the budget, such as people listed on the budget that did not work for the district and employees listed at a certain pay grade who were actually paid at a different rate. The errors in salary alone amounted to $320,000, Radford said.

The board went into a closed session following the public hearing to discuss the testimony and deliberate.

Barton could not say whether a decision would be reached Thursday night.

Gordon was placed on paid leave Dec. 3. Donn Quick, a retired superintendent from Higginsville, started as interim superintendent in January. John Boise, of Warsaw, served as the interim in December.