The woman who was fired last month from the top job at the Iowa Association of School Boards says she inherited a “disorganized and financially strapped” organization when she became the group’s executive director last July. 

Maxine Kilcrease, former Iowa Association of School Boards executive director, spoke publicly during a Legislative Oversight Committee hearing this morning, but Representative Vicki Lensing of Iowa City accused her of providing no “facts” to back up her allegations that the association was in financial shambles when she arrived.

 “The questions we’ve been asking have been to shed light on the financial picture of the school board association,” Lensing said.  “I’m disappointed…that we’re not getting any further information on that.”

Kilcrease had her attorney sitting at her side and he often whispered advice before she would respond to a legislator’s question.  On many occasions Kilcrease invoked her constitutional right not to answer a legislator’s question based on the grounds that her answer might be used against her in court.

 “Please, I would like to preface my remarks by saying I am very respectful in this situation, but…this is a point upon which I will assert my rights pursuant to the fifth amendment,” Kilcrease said this morning. 

Lensing told Kilcrease that was disappointing.  “I appreciate your legal rights and I appreciate you were listening to our questions,” Lensing said.  “I’m just sorry that for some of them we didn’t get the answers we needed.”

Kilcrease got a $150,000 pay raise at the end of September, after three months on the job.  The document outlining that salary has been at the center of the pay dispute.  The former board president first said he signed the document, then he said the signature wasn’t his. 

Representative Clel Baudler of Greenfield pressed Kilcrease for answers. “When that contract was signed, were you there?” Baudler asked. 

Kilcrease replied:  “I don’t have access to all the information you’re asking about and, again, upon advice from legal counsel I assert my rights pursuant to the fifth amendment and again, the matter of your question seeks disclosure of confidential information.” 

Baudler noted the contract has been sent to a person who analyzes handwriting.  “Can you assure this committee that the signatures on that contract are true and correct?” Baudler asked. 

Kilcrease answered:  “I’m not going to comment on that.”

At the start of the hearing Sean Spellman, Kilcrease’s attorney, disputed the idea Kilcrease wasn’t owed that $150,000 extra in pay. “Enforcement of a legitimate contract is not a pay raise, despite statements of the media and of this committee,” Spellman said. 

Representative Baudler later asked, but Kilcrease declined to release the contract publicly, however.

Spellman also suggested some members of the committee had it out for Kilcrease. “Unfortunately select legislators have chosen to engage in divisive communications,” Spellman said.  “…These tactics are counterproductive.”

Earlier this year Senator Tom Courtney said during a committee meeting that Kilcrease and other top managers at the Iowa Association of School Boards were “no  more than common thieves.”  Courtney did not ask any questions during today’s committee hearing.

 Another legislator asked Kilcrease whether she’d ever worked for a non-profit group before she took the Iowa Association of School Boards job, but she refused to answer that, too.