By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog
DES MOINES — A former Des Moines superintendent who left the district amidst a flurry of controversy lied for her own gain when applying for a superintendent position in Nebraska’s largest school district, newly released emails show.
Nancy Sebring falsely told Omaha school board members that she turned down a job offer last year by a Colorado school district, according to Colorado officials and emails obtained Wednesday by Iowa Watchdog.
But Boulder, Colo., school district officials dispute her claim.
“There was no direct offer,” said Briggs Gamblin, spokesman for the Boulder district. “There wouldn’t be in that circumstance for any candidate.”
Sebring did not return phone calls from Iowa Watchdog seeking comment.
Sebring had a tumultuous six-year tenure in Des Moines. Issues included hiring her twin sister, Nina Rasmusson, to lead a newly created charter school and then replacing the principal at East High School with Rasmusson’s boyfriend. Rasmusson recently resigned from Des Moines Public Charter School before an internal audit’s findings were announced.
Parents and community members in Des Moines also have said the district’s transparency with the public has deteriorated under Sebring’s watch, deepening the public’s distrust of the district.
Sebring abruptly announced her immediate resignation several weeks ago.
She initially told the Des Moines district her last day would be June 30, before she started her job as the Omaha superintendent. Questions remain surrounding her sudden departure, despite her saying she just needed more time to prepare for her new position.
Omaha School Board President Freddie Gray could not be reached for comment.
Sebring sent an email March 27 asking that the Omaha board be informed that she was offered a superintendent job last year in Colorado. She also disputed media reports that she wasn’t offered the job.
She was among three finalists for the Boulder superintendent position. The morning after her interview, the board president offered her the job, but she withdrew her name, she wrote in the email.
“The board president, search consultant and I agreed that we would announce that I had withdrawn from consideration. However, the Boulder Board didn’t follow through with the plan, and it was announced in the media both in Boulder and in Des Moines that I was not offered the job. I didn’t publicly address this but was disappointed that misinformation was publicly released by the Boulder board and the search consultant,” she wrote.
The Des Moines Register reported that community members who ranked the finalists on a scale of zero to 3 gave Sebring a 2, while other candidates scored an average of 2.5. Board members factor in the scores during the selection process.
Each candidate was asked to complete a form saying they would accept the position if it was offered to them. But none of the candidates were offered the superintendent position, Gamblin said.
Omaha will pay Sebring $275,000, which doesn’t include a $38,500 annuity contribution and $12,000 for transportation expenses. She will also receive up to $15,000 for moving costs, according to her contract.