By Tamas Mondovics
In response to the recent developments involving former Johnson County Schools Transportation Department Supervisor Barry Bishop, the community has not been shy expressing their thoughts and feelings both in person and on social media.
Decisions made by the five-member school board put Bishop’s employment status with the Johnson County School system to rest, but prompted more questions than answers.
With a 4-1 vote earlier this month, the board made Bishop’s retirement with benefits along with a $20,000.04 severance agreement official, effectively causing a social media backlash.
Johnson County Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox said that the school board’s dealings with Bishop, including his retirement and severance is separate from his criminal case. “We had nothing to do with the state’s criminal case against Mr. Bishop.”
As was reported earlier, according to the Johnson County School Board’s legal counsel, and as far as the Johnson County Schools system is concerned the separation agreement between JCS and Bishop, “is far less expensive and less risky than continuing legal proceedings.”
Johnson County School Board Lawyer Chris McCarty told the board earlier this month that, if Bishop’s employment status with JCS is not put to bed, “Mr. Bishop can file a suit. Even if he is dead wrong, just defending a suit would cost you more than what is in this agreement. A lot more.”
When asked if the board considered firing Bishop upon learning of his arrest and the allegations in January 2019 for one count of theft over $10,000, with TBI agents determining the total amount to be approximately $50,000, Simcox said, “The board was called together, and we did what our attorney advised us to do.”
“This was not about stealing from the school system,” Simcox said. “There was never any money stolen from the school system. The contract for CDL testing is from Homeland Security. We had a contract with them for over 20 years, and Mr. Bishop has done the testing. The case is in the DA’s hands.”
When asked why to let an “at-will” school employee who was investigated by the TBI, and is now facing a criminal trial, retire with benefits not to mention paying him $20,000, Simcox said, “I understand that people do not understand. We did everything based on the advice of our attorney.”
Bishop is officially retired as of November 1, 2019.
Based on court records, a final motion hearing for Bishop is currently set for Tuesday, February 25, 2020, followed by a possible trial date for June 25, 26, 2020.