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Sioux City School Board

Sioux City School Board president Mike Krysl, left, talks as Superintendent Paul Gausman listens during a school board meeting in April, where the board approved a separation agreement with former finance director John Chalstrom.  

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | Sioux City's finance director, who leveled a series of allegations against Superintendent Paul Gausman in February, said Thursday he was not questioned as part of a recently completed school board investigation into the charges.

Through an intermediary, John Chalstrom accused Gausman of creating a hostile workplace and threatening his job if he shared alternative budget proposals with board members outside of regular meetings.

At the end of Monday's board meeting, President Mike Krysl told the Journal the internal investigation was finished and the board found no evidence of wrong doing by Gausman, a former Iowa superintendent of the year.

"(The public) can rest assure that the board did take this seriously and undertook a fact-finding mission of its own....We don't think it is necessary to take any other action," Krysl said Monday.

Chalstrom, who was placed on administrative leave two days after making the Feb.11 allegations, could not be immediately be reached for comment after Monday's meeting. Reached Thursday, Chalstrom confirmed he had not been questioned for the investigation. He declined any further comment.

Krysl refused Thursday to say whether Chalstrom had been interviewed.

"I am not going to comment on the specifics of an investigation. It is a confidential personnel matter and we are going to stand by that," the board president said.

Krysl also declined to specify how many people had been interviewed.

"It was exhaustive enough to look at the merit of each and every allegation that was raised," he said.

The board in April received legal advice from an outside attorney who concluded any records generated by an investigation related to the conduct or performance of a district employee or former employee would be confidential files not subject to disclosure under the state’s open records law.

In a story first reported by the Journal, Chalstrom intermediary Dan Greenwell shared the list of the finance director's concerns with Krysl and board Vice President Mike McTaggart at a Feb. 11 meeting and in a subsequent series of emails.

Greenwell, a frequent critic of Gausman and his administration, urged the board to investigate the claims.

Gausman has vehemently denied all of the charges.

Greenwell said Thursday he was not surprised Chalstrom was not questioned.

"I thought it was highly predictable the board would not have the confidence to perform an independent, outside investigation," Greenwell said. "In my view, it speaks very loudly on both the continued lack of independence and fear of accountability by a majority of board members."

On April 10, the board, by a 5-2 vote, approved a settlement agreement with Chalstrom. Under the deal, he remains on paid administrative leave until the expiration of his contract on Friday, the end of the district's current budget year. Additionally, he will receive about $35,000 in severance pay through Sept. 30.

At Monday's meeting, the board approved the hiring of Patricia Blankenship as the new director of finance. Blankenship is a partner and CPA at the Sioux City-based firm King, Reinsch, Prosser.

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County and education reporter

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