School District 8 has released the legal expenses it has incurred due to conduct by trustee Allan Gribbin days before voters choose a new board of trustees.
Following the public board meeting on Sept. 26, an announcement on the SD8 website listed the expenses of Allan Gribbin, incumbent for the South Rural Zone. From 2019 to 2022, a total of $121,676 in expenses is listed for Gribbin during his term, including salary and benefits. Of that total, $46,518 is for legal expenses.
“Over the term of Trustee Allan Gribbin, the board of education has borne costs associated with management of his conduct,” the release stated.
“The board has determined that this information is in the public interest and therefore is releasing details of the costs incurred for legal expenses and staff time associated with Gribbin’s conduct, ethics investigations, and processes related to contraventions of Policy 130 – Trustee Conduct and Code of Ethics and Policy 580 – Respectful Workplace.”
In response to the release of his legal expenses, Gribbin said the board have failed to silence him and have wasted public funds doing so.
“On multiple occasions, I have requested that the board engage an independent mediator, but they have chosen to hire expensive lawyers rather than follow the much cheaper route,” he said.
“I have been an advocate of returning Creston’s school district to our community, which has also ruffled a few of their feathers and could possibly be a motive for this attack during an election campaign. The people of Creston area makes this decision, not the school board.”
Gribbin was first elected to the board in 2018. Over the last four years he has been formally censured by the board twice. The first time was for “disrespectful comments and disruptive conduct” at a public meeting on May 28, 2019.
In August 2020, Gribbin was censured for the second time for making “false, misleading, and derogatory statements about the board and its staff” in an opinion piece published in the Creston Valley Advance that month.
“The reality is that I will continue to express my views whether or not they issue another censure,” he said in the article.
In October 2021, the board issued another release to formally correct statements made by Gribbin alleging SD8’s policy was not followed in a procurement process for $750,000 of student laptops.
Earlier that year, Gribbin wrote another controversial column for the Advance questioning the process, which he said excluded local businesses from bidding. He had opposed the motion for approval of funding for the initiative in February.
“Trustee Gribbin did not respect or abide by that decision,” said the SD8 statement issued on Oct. 27, 2021.
“Rather, he continued to object to the decision and to question the steps taken by district employees to carry out that decision. Trustee Gribbin did not simply disagree with the decision to approve the funding, he repeatedly and personally criticized district staff for the role in that initiative and the decision of the board.”
Board chair Lenora Trenaman said all trustees are welcome to express their personal perspectives, as long as it is done in a respectful, civil, and professional manner aligning with SD8’s code of conduct.
“It is important to note that all trustees have equal voice, and respectful discussion and debate are expected,” she said. “When a trustee is not able to follow the code of conduct or support a respectful workplace, the board must take action to ensure successful operation of the board and public confidence.”
When asked why information on Gribbin’s expenses were released so close to the election, she said the board believes it to be of public interest.
“All citizens pay taxes that fund the school system, and they expect that these funds are used to support the function of the school district in support of student learning,” she said. “The board has released this information to demonstrate fiscal transparency and create greater trust in public education.”
When asked to provide more detail on the breakdown of legal expenses, Trenaman declined to do so at this time.