Local Views: On ‘Misconduct by Ptacek and Stivland’

Attorney Kristi Hastings, hired to investigate the alleged misconduct of school board members Michael Ptacek and Sarah Stivland, found that Ptacek and Stivland acted in violation of this District’s Respectful Behavior Policy, and Board Governance Process.

Dr. Ptacek made a series of public statements about a District employee.

Attorney Hastings found that:

1. When asked a question by the press, instead of making a straight-forward and honest statement, Ptacek asked a rhetorical question crafted to cause people to read between the lines and assume that someone (the District employee) had done something improper.

2. Ptacek made a statement that was a thinly veiled attempt to foster ambiguity.

3. Ptacek did nothing except allow controversy to continue to swirl, fueled by innuendo he helped create.

Dr. Ptacek, by his words and actions, impugned the personal and professional reputation of a District employee, intentionally creating a hostile work environment for that employee.

Dr. Ptacek’s words and actions have no place in civil society.

Attorney Hastings found that Ms. Stivland’s comment about a District employee showed disregard for the truth. An uncontroverted fact.

The report on Sarah Stivland’s behavior, among other things, addresses:

1. Her attendance at a so-called town hall forum held in Stillwater on July 25, 2017, and hosted by Jennifer Bye,

2. Ms. Stivland’s membership, participation and comments on a closed 834 Voice Facebook page noted for, crude, profane and mean-spirited comments, and

3. Ms. Stivland’s comments at the August 10, 2017 school board meeting.

One of the speakers at Jennifer Bye’s town hall forum made a false allegation of misconduct against a District employee.

Shortly after that false allegation, Stivland made a blanket comment on the closed 834 Voice Facebook page, praising all the speakers at Bye’s town hall forum for their “great information.” Stivland did not exempt the speaker who falsely defamed the District employee. The investigator found that Stivland’s Facebook comment was disrespectful and in violation of District policy. Another uncontroverted fact.

Stivland was informed of the false and defamatory statement made by the speaker at Jennifer Bye’s town hall forum. Stivland did not retract her praise of the speaker, nor did she clarify her statement, nor did she say a word in support of the wrongfully defamed employee. Stivland let her support of the false and defamatory statement stand uncorrected. Stivland’s actions show that her intent was malevolent.

At the August 10, 2017 school board meeting, at a time when she knew all the facts related to the town hall forum speaker’s false and defamatory statement about a District employee, Sarah Stivland showed disregard for the truth and stated “the facts are still evolving.” By falsely stating that the facts were still evolving, rather than acknowledging the truth, Sarah Stivland impugned the character and professional reputation of a District employee.

Sarah. Stivland, by her words and actions, created a hostile work environment for that employee.

Ms. Stivland’s words and behavior have no place in civil society.

Ptacek and Stivland, well aware of their own misconduct, voted against the investigation that would eventually lay bare their misdeeds. Their votes were akin to attempted obstruction of justice. They did not want their unethical behavior exposed to the world.

The taxpayers should not be stuck with the bill for the dishonesty and unethical behavior of Ptacek and Stivland. Ptacek and Stivland should be ordered to pay for the cost of the investigation and report. A cost that arose solely because of their unethical conduct.