Three of the most read stories on Seark Today in 2012 involved three men who lost their public positions this year through termination, resignation, or contract buyout.
Drew Central High School principal Steven Noble was fired in January 2012 following allegations of sexual indecency with a child that stemmed from an 2011 Internet sting operation in which an Arizona police detective posed as a 14-year-old girl in an online chatroom.
According to an affidavit for the 57-year-old principal’s December arrest, a person using an internet chat room screen name “knob 71859″ on November 30 invited an undercover Arizona police detective posing as 14-year-old girl to view his web cam. After accepting the invitation, the detective said he saw web cam images of a white male, nude from the waist down, engaging in self sexual gratification.
An investigation by Arizona authorities and Arkansas State Police to Nobel who was arrested at his Monticello home in December 2011.
The state panel that disciplines judges dismissed charges against former Monticello District Judge Ken Harper on the condition that he will never serve again as a judge in Arkansas.
Harper, who was unopposed in the May nonpartisan judicial primary, resigned on September 19, one day before the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced that it had brought charges against Harper for alleged abuse of alcohol.
Harper says he resigned because of the meager pay and that the charges against him were politically motivated But, he subsequently wrote a letter to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission agreeing to never serve again as a judge in Arkansas. In turn, the panel dismissed the charges saying there would be no disciplinary hearing in the case. Gov. Mike Beebe in November appointed Monticello attorney P. Luevonda Ross to replace Harper on the bench.
Harper also made news headlines across the state when he erected an outhouse on the lawn of Monticello City Hall.
Harper said the outhouse, which he removed about 30 minutes after it was erected, was placed there in response to a “No Public Restrooms” sign on the door at City Hall.
He said he had the outhouse constructed as a First Amendment protest of an illegal act by the city administration, that public buildings are required by law to have public restrooms.
Dr. Bruce Bryant
The Crossett School District in June 2012 completed negotiations in the buyout of former superintendent Dr. Bruce Bryant’s contract and agreed to a sum of $50,000 for the remaining 12 months on Bryant’s 2-year, $130,000 a year superintendent contract which was set to expire on June 30, 2013.
Bryant was suspended with pay in April 2012 following a 3-2 vote of the Crossett School Board. While the board did not cite a reason for Bryant’s suspension, a state Legislative Audit report indicated that two school employees were receiving significantly higher salaries than what was approved in the school district’s salary schedule.
According to the management letter, the assistant superintendent should have been making $79,567, however, a contract totaling $99,276 was issued. Dr. June Elliot, the assistant superintendent, has since resigned.
The football coach/athletic director should have received $63,505 based on the salary schedule but was making $72,764, according to the audit report.
Bryant and the school board last year approved the salary increase for Brad Bradshaw, the district’s athletic director and former head coach of the high school’s football team, but did so without the required majority vote of the district’s certified staff, according to Norman Hill, the district’s interim superintendent at the time of Bryant’s contract buyout.
Tommy Tyler, a former assistant superintendent at the Monticello School District and former Fouke School District superintendent, was hired in July to replace Bryant.