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Bishop case causes school board unrest

By Meg Dickens
STAFF WRITER

Former Transportation Supervisor Barry Lawrence Bishop was arrested on January 3, 2019, for one count of theft over $10,000. TBI agents found that Bishop collected nearly $50,000 in fees that he failed to report to the Johnson County Trustee.
Sources at the Thursday, October 10 school board meeting confirm that Bishop is still carried on unpaid administrative leave through Johnson County Schools. When asked about the school board’s consideration of paying Bishop a large sum and allowing him to retire, instead of terminating his employment, Simcox said that she would “not comment on these rumors,” but did not deny the allegation.
Things got a bit heated as board member Gary Matheson brought up the Bishop employment issue near the end of the meeting to demand answers from Simcox, while Chairman Howard Carlton attempted to diffuse the situation.
Carlton brought up previous information and confirmed that the board has communicated about the case. The school board’s lawyer Chris McCarty will have an open session with the board to further explain the case.
Matheson demanded that McCarty be dismissed. “I’m not talking to you. I’m not talking to you, okay,” Matheson raised his voice as he
argued with Chairman Carlton. “I’m talking to the director. I want an answer from her.”
Simcox repeatedly told Matheson that she was following their lawyer’s
advice. Carlton assured Matheson that McCarty would explain the situation further. Matheson did not accept that answer and stated that he did not need to hear the lawyer explain; he wanted an explanation from Simcox herself.
“Our attorney is taking care of everything,” Simcox again said when asked for a comment. “This is a personnel issue and can’t be discussed at this time.”
Matheson jumped up as soon as the meeting adjourned. After a few moments in the crowd, Sheriff Eddie Tester escorted Matheson from the premises. The other board members posed for The Tomahawk with their newly bestowed Board of Distinction award during the incident.
According to Circuit Court Clerk Melissa Hollaway, the court will set a trial date for Bishop on October 31. The court date was originally for a juried trial, but complications with the legal council led to the postponement.