• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Former schools chief requests info on candidate’s daughter

A former Woodford County schools superintendent asked for information about whether or not a school board candidate’s daughter was a student in the high school class that helped come up with questions for a school board candidate forum on Sept. 26.

Paul Stahler sent his email to school district employee Bob Gibson later that night, at 11:57, asking if Dani Bradley’s daughter was a student in the community activism class that formulated questions for the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored forum. Gibson, who also serves as chair of the chamber’s board of directors, told Stahler in an email the following day, “We are not at liberty to provide a student’s schedule to the general public.”

Stahler then acknowledged in a reply that his “original email was not appropriate given student confidentiality.”

Bradley said school board member Debby Edelen told her about Stahler’s email in late-October, “and I should have been notified immediately. If someone outside the school district is requesting information about my child, I should’ve been notified immediately. I have a big issue with that and expect that that will result in a policy …”

Bradley, who filed an opens records request with the school district Oct. 26 to get a copy of emails between Stahler and Gibson, said she contacted the Versailles Police about the incident.

Lt. Michael Fortney said there’s no investigation into the incident because nothing criminal occurred. Still, Stahler’s actions are a concern to Bradley, she told the Sun.

“As a parent,” said Bradley, a school board candidate for the 5th educational district seat, “there is no reason for a 71-year-old man to be requesting information about my 17-year-old daughter. None. Not political. There is no acceptable reason. And as a former educator, he should be aware of that.”

“I know better. I made a mistake,” said Stahler of his request for information about Bradley’s daughter. Stahler wrote in his email to Gibson and informed the Sun that at least four people told him that one of the school board candidates – Bradley – had prior knowledge of at least some of the questions before the Sept. 26 forum. Gibson’s email response did not convince him otherwise, he said.

“The explanation that I received from Bob Gibson did not satisfy me that somebody did not have answers ahead of time,” said Stahler, who attended the candidate forum.

“I’m still not satisfied with the answer,” he added, “but I let it go because there’s no way to prove it.”

In response, Bradley said her daughter was not a student in the community activism class that Stahler asked about in his email. “I definitely did not receive the questions in advance and I think any excuse for poor behavior is just that – it’s an excuse,” she said. Stahler has been a vocal supporter of Allison Richardson, a school board candidate for the 2nd educational district seat who also served on a recall committee (chaired by Stahler) that circulated a petition opposing a facilities tax to pay for a new high school, which was defeated in a special election.

Stahler said his email to Gibson has been “blown totally out of proportion” because of his opposition to the facilities tax, and his role in making the Sun and its readers aware of a post on Huntertown Elementary School’s Facebook page thanking Bradley and other members of the I Support Our Schools group, which supported the school tax, for a lunch to congratulate teachers for being named a Blue Ribbon School.

The school’s original post included a photo of Bradley with someone wearing a “Dani Bradley for School Board” t-shirt and a link to Bradley’s Facebook page.

“It’s just payback,” said Stahler. “I’m not trying to hide from the fact that I made a mistake. I made a mistake.”

Edelen said Stahler’s request for information about a student was much more than a mistake. “It’s totally inappropriate, and I’m proud of our staff for doing the right thing,” she said.

Said Bradley, “… I have not contacted anyone asking for information about him (Stahler). This is a very one-sided vendetta if it is a vendetta.”

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