Monday, April 25, 2011

Guest Submission: The Plymouth School Saga Continues as School Board Attorney Behaves Dishonorably Toward Citizen

Dan Tyree
The following was submitted by Plymouth citizen, Dare Hawes, in response to questionable activity by Plymouth School Corporation officials.  In addition, Edward Ruiz, a school board attorney wrote the following to Dare Hawes in response to a recent inquiry into matters relating to an alleged legal opinion that Superintendent Dan Tyree claimed to have obtained from an Indianapolis attorney.  This unprofessional outburst from an attorney should not be tolerated by Plymouth citizens or the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

Ed Ruiz to Dare Hawes:  "God and I are cool. Don't fucking preach to me.  I don't need your assistance there."

By Dare Hawes

Plymouth Superintendent Dan Tyree publicly stated that an Indianapolis attorney wrote a legal opinion that asserted Tyree had done nothing illegal and everything was above board in regards to the controversial roofing project. Tyree also stated that all these related documents were available for public review.

Under Indiana Public Access Law a citizen then requested Tyree to:
Please identify that attorney, and send copies of both his legal opinion and a copy of the invoice for his specific services.” (Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2011 3:39 PM)

Tyree responded on Sunday, April 17, 2011 4:01 PM:
The letter you requested is protected by attorney client privilege. There was no invoice for services.”

The citizen responded:
Please  send the name of this attorney who has advised you on the roofing project and his contact information so that we can thank him personally for his free services to our school system!.... This is my 2nd official written request under IPA.” (Sent: Monday, April 18, 2011 1:00 PM)

Tyree  then admitted the attorney was not from Indianapolis, as he had falsely stated to the public.
The attorney who did the research and who provided our board with the opinion was our board attorney, Mr. Ed Ruiz.”  (Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 2:38 PM)

The citizen’s 3rd IPA request for the information on April 20th at 3:15 PM was in part as follows:
 “I have communicated at length with Andrew Kossack, IPA counselor, and reviewed the applicable Indiana Code Statutes . . . ..Seeing as the legal opinion prepared by Mr. Ruiz and provided to the board by himself is not a document prepared in preparation for a law suit, or in response to ANY threat of a law suit, I again ask for a copy of Mr. Ruiz's publicly paid legal opinion  . . . This requested document is also one that both you and Roger publicly declared was available for anyone who wanted to see it. I want to see it, as do others. Please send it to me, or have Mr. Ruiz forward it to me. This is my 3rd and last IPA request.”

On April 20, 2011 3:56 PM, 41 minutes later, Tyree had Mr. Ruiz respond directly to this 3rd IPA request for information:
I am writing to advise the you will not receive any memorandum prepared for my client, the PCSC.  It is confidential as my attorney work product and under attorney / client privilege.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 5:44 PM the citizen responded:
“ . . .  . . . .why would you want to willfully choose to with hold info from the Public that should be supportive of our public school administrators' actions, especially after Dan and Roger publicly stated it was available to anyone in the public?   Do you understand it makes suspect what you might be trying to hide? Yet again?
       Are you abusing the law to protect wrongdoing or using it to promote transparency and accountability of our public school administrators?

Then at  6:01 PM this citizen sent Attorney Ruiz the following information provided by IPA counselor Andrew Kossack (on Monday, April 18, 2011 3:35 PM) who wrote:

"..... the district should release records that contain such information unless the school has a legal basis to withhold the record.......

Information subject to the attorney client privilege retains its privileged character until the client has consented to its disclosure." Mayberry v. State, 670 N.E.2d 1262, 1267 (Ind. 1996), citing Key v. State, 132 N.E.2d 143, 145 (Ind. 1956)...... 

Pursuant to I.C. §5-14-3-4(b)(2) a public agency has the discretion to withhold a record that is the work product of an attorney representing a public agency. 

The citizen then respectfully asked Mr. Ruiz the following:

“In view of these facts, please answer the following questions:
1. What legal basis does Mr. Tyree have to withhold the record?
2. Why valid reason does Mr. Tyree possess to not consent to its disclosure?
3. Why does Mr. Tyree not exercise the discretion to release your work product of your LEGAL OPINION?
4. What is the difference between a memorandum and a legal opinion?
5. What proof can you present that you in fact wrote this legal opinion for PCS regarding this roofing scandal, as asserted publicly by Mr. Tyree?”

What was this local attorney’s publicly paid response to this citizen (on 4/22 @ 8:53 AM and 2:14 PM)?

“First, you are wrong.  Second, do not waste my time e-mailing me.  I do not have time for for you.  If you are really serious, which I am sure you are not, you are welcome to set up a time to meet with me in my office and discuss anything you want.  My hourly rate is $200.00 and I require payment up front of no less than one full hour.  I will not accept a personal check, cash or money order only.  If this is not acceptable, kiss off.  I hope your Easter is full of happines and prozac . . . .. Don't fucking preach to me. “ 

Summary: PCS Superintendent Dan Tyree first publicly stated an Indianapolis attorney wrote a legal opinion (Note: according to another local attorney, there is a difference between a legal opinion and a memorandum, which is what  Ruiz wrote). This legal opinion, Tyree said, asserted no illegal activity has occurred in the controversial roofing contracts. Tyree also publicly stated these documents were available for citizens’ review. When a citizen properly requested these records, they were rudely repeatedly denied. Why? Why would these documents which allegedly would prove Dan Tyree has committed no wrong now be so unethically refused to citizens by both Tyree and his publicly retained attorney?

And, the question must be asked again, why would Tyree and his publicly retained attorney similarly
adamantly refuse 13 citizens’ request for access to the complete computer records if those records would have in fact provenTyree was not lying about alleged computer tampering on 10/4/07?

Rather than factually proving to the public his innocence by providing these pertinent documents on both these serious issues, as he originally promised to do, Tyree uses tax payers’ money (more than $25,000 and escalating) to retain several different attorneys to prevent the release of these documents to protect him—NOT the interests of our educational community! This is wrong. The Plymouth School Board (Todd Samuelson, Larry Pinkerton, Frank Brubaker, Melissa Christiansen, and Larry Holloway), the Indiana State Police, local prosecutor David Holmes and state officials all persistently support this public wrong by their chosen silence. Why? Why will no one in public authority seek to hold these public officials accountable?

On April 22, 2010 at the Plymouth School Board meeting Dan Tyree stated, under the topic of  INTEGRITY ---
“For the third time Dare Hawes has filed an Open Access Violation against Mr. Dan Tyree and his staff . . . .. While Mrs. Hawes has the right to file, there are costs involved in her accusations and it is time the community tells Mrs. Hawes enough is enough. Plymouth School’s money should be spent on our children, not on our lawyers.”

Yet again, Mrs. Hawes has properly requested three times under IPA the legal opinion promised by Tyree to the Public for review in this roofing controversy. It is most suspect, yet again, that Tyree and his attorneys now without sound reason have persistently refused these critical records.

Thirteen times 13 citizens properly requested the complete computer records to prove who committed the fully documented computer tampering in October 2007. Tyree and his attorneys without sound reason have persistently refused these critical records.

Mrs. Hawes can choose not to file yet another complaint, and let these public wrongs continue to go unaddressed, or she can file yet another IPA complaint. She will—with others..

Tyree can choose to at last provide these records at no cost  to PCS and avoid a complaint being filed, though he has refused 3 requests already; he can answer that IPA complaint himself, saving PCS money; or, he can hire more attorneys to again protect himself—not PCS-- at significant additional cost to taxpayers. Regardless, Mrs. Hawes is not, and has not, cost PCS a cent.

It is grievous that no one in public authority has dared to seek to hold Dan Tyree—or his school board-- accountable, to tell him and his publicly retained attorneys that “enough is enough”  . . . ..To say loud and clear that public school dollars should not be spent on his attorneys, but to protect our schools!.....That all these records should be released so INTEGRITY, not public corruption, will prevail at last. Too many innocent “former” PCS employees have been injuriously maligned by this administration. People live in fear, and rightly so at the unquestioned power of these public officials.

“Injustices feed on the silence of men intimidated by the assertion of power. Whether that power is social, political, financial, or empty legal rhetoric makes no difference.”

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