Sheldon Berman and the Appearance of Impropriety

It’s weird to have three middle school principals and others contact us for background information about anything. But that’s exactly what happened.

Turns out Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman asked school principals to contact members of the Board of Education to voice their support for him. Why? Because the Board is scrutinizing his role on/with outside boards and companies. And because some bloggers are giving him trouble.

So let’s examine things again…

Berman’s ties to various boards and companies could be nice superficially and could turn into great connections for the public school system. But there’s no denying the appearance of impropriety exists. And there’s possibly something in it all for Berman or he wouldn’t be constantly pushing contracts to every friend he’s ever made. When you’re charged with spending taxpayer’s hard-earned money, you don’t get to spread it around to your friends without some serious, serious scrutiny.

On the front of various boards Berman sits on… we hear through the grapevine that several members of the Board of Education have taken a sudden keen interest in Berman’s incessant travel outside of the school district. Berman allegedly travels quite a bit to attend board and other meetings as a result of his ties to outside organizations. Granted, it may be a George W. Bush “working vacation” scenario where Berman responds to email and telephone calls. But at the same time, he’s definitely gone and misses out on meetings and events that happen right here at home. With the latest revelation that Berman’s friends and business ties are benefiting directly from his role as Superintendent, this could be a problem.

This morning we filed an open records request in an attempt to gain copies of Berman’s travel records. We hope to determine just how much time he spends traveling to and from these various meetings in an attempt to see if this impacts his job as superintendent. How much time is he in-district? How often is he gone? Based on interviews we have already conducted, Berman is gone so frequently that it surprises many within Jefferson County Public Schools.

So he’s super-busy and travels quite a bit. So much so that he likely misses meetings here at home. But he’s got plenty of time to write letters of recommendation for his “friends” (alleged “running buddies”) seeking new jobs.

Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what develops. By law, JCPS has three days to respond.