We always knew former Des Moines Public School
District Superintendent Nancy Sebring had a
way with words, as she directed many of them
toward us through the years.
After we published an editorial column in October
of 2010 questioning the district’s use of taxpayer
money on what was, in our view, expensive and
unnecessary computer software, she fired back
voicemails and emails, describing us and our
comments as “smug,” “absurd,” “arrogant,” “condescending,”
“misinformed” and “insulting,” noting that our
opinion was “shoddy journalism.” As usual, we
took it all in stride.
She continually chastised us, saying it was
wrong for us to “rifle through documents” and
then “talk down” about the district’s decisions.
She also told us, “Our schoolhouse doors are
always open to visitors, especially those wanting
to learn a thing or two about what goes on inside.”
We can’t help but wonder how she now feels about
the “rifling” of her email documents that has
happened in the past few weeks, fully unveiling
“what goes on inside” her world.
We were able to obtain Sebring’s emails that
The Omaha World Herald, The Des Moines Register
and the local TV stations have been referencing
over the weekend but have opted not to publish.
many of the emails here >>>
The words and phrases Sebring chose to describe
us are Disney-like compared to the verbiage
discovered in her emails to her lover, whose
name, incidentally, was redacted in the documents
by the district’s general counsel pursuant to
Chapter 22.718 in the Open Record law. (But
he is a tattooed, married father of daughters
who cries on occasion and probably has a pretty
good job.) We intended to publish many of those
emails in the pages of this paper, but even
we were blushing after viewing what read like
a stack of Penthouse letters. Her graphic references
about her craving for something “long, hard”
and her desire for something else with “a suction
cup” would make most anyone uncomfortable. But
the email detailing why she would be wearing
skirts every time she sees her lover was enough
to fog even our glasses. But like a train wreck
that was taking place before our eyes, we couldn’t
stop watching. Simply stated, these emails make
“Fifty Shades of Grey” read like “Mother Goose.”
Yes, these are emails from our former school
district superintendent, one who abruptly left
our great city for the greener fields of Nebraska.
Yes, these are emails that were sent on district
computers, on the district email system during
regular business hours.
Yes, these emails are from a person who had
ultimate responsibility for the well being of
more than 30,000 students of the school district.
Sebring appropriately accepted responsibility
for her actions, albeit after realizing there
was no way to possibly slither out of the problems
she created. With that in mind, we have to wonder
what more could be found by searching emails
dating further back.
This isn’t a matter of Sebring’s private life
versus Sebring’s public life, as some have suggested.
The district’s email policy is clear, and she
violated it in ways that are unbelievably reckless.
She apparently felt she was above the policy
— untouchable, you might say. Then again, after
reading the emails, untouchable may not be the
best word choice.
There’s no doubt that Sebring has a strong personality,
and there’s no denying that she has strong sexual
desires. But simply being an egomaniac and a
horn dog doesn’t violate district policy. Sending
it out in graphic detail on district equipment
We regret the pain and embarrassment that Sebring’s
actions have caused her family, the faculty
and the patrons of this school district. We
caught a glimpse of this arrogance in our dealings
with her, and the board of education for the
Omaha Public School District was wise to accept
her resignation to avoid much of the same. We
can now somewhat understand what our own board
of education was dealing with in Sebring, but
this still, in no way, justifies the secrecy
of the closed session meetings and the way the
board handled the entire scenario.
If nothing else, this embarrassing fiasco serves
as a reminder to those who work on the taxpayer
dollar that all communication on taxpayer-funded
equipment is a matter of public record, as it
should be. CV
Many of Sebring’s complete emails, minus the
names edited out by the school district, are