District 833 releases disciplinary action information on Soma (W/VIDEO)A public records request to District 833 schools revealed two allegations against former Woodbury High School Activities Director John Soma during his time at WHS.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
Former Woodbury High School activities director John Soma, a WHS graduate, resigned Monday from the same position at Edina High School.
Soma was placed on administrative leave in August and was under investigation by the Edina school district.
Edina Public Schools Communications Director Susan Brott said Soma had been placed on administrative leave on Aug. 23 in relation to allegations. The investigation was ongoing at the time of his resignation.
The district investigation is now over due to Soma's resignation.
“The district respects Mr. Soma’s personal decision to resign from Edina Public Schools and wishes him well in the future,” according to an Edina Public Schools news release.
The recent investigation at Edina stemmed from outside that district.
“It did not have anything to do with his employment at Edina,” said Susan Brott, communications director for Edina schools.
A public records request to District 833 schools revealed two allegations against Soma during his time at Woodbury High School.
Brott said she couldn’t say whether the Edina investigation had anything to do with Woodbury-related allegations.
One of the two complaints filed with South Washington County Schools resulted in disciplinary action against Soma.
According to a district letter sent in December 2007to Soma from Randall Zipf, former assistant superintendent for secondary education, the district learned of “a pattern of payments” from WHS activities department that raised flags.
Checks were written to people for work they didn’t do, the letter states. Several checks were written to relatives of people who actually did the work. The letter states the motive was to circumvent the $600 threshold to file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service.
The letter states at least six families were involved in the payment scheme, “with the knowledge and cooperation of the Woodbury High School Activities Department.”
School officials learned blank checks had been signed in advance of payment to be completed later.
“While you were forthright in acknowledging these practices, we cannot condone being expeditious and not complying with district accounting procedures,” Zipf’s letter states.
The letter required the payment practice to end immediately and for Soma to maintain “the highest ethical and management standards.”
The second complaint against some at WHS was investigated, but did not result in disciplinary action, according to District 833 Communications Director Barb Brown.
“Because the second allegation did not result in final disposition of disciplinary action, the nature of the second allegation is classified as private under (the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act),” Brown said in a statement.
Attempts to reach Soma by phone were unsuccessful. A Woodbury phone number listed for Soma had been disconnected.
A Woodbury resident since 1980, Soma graduated from WHS in 1996 and, after receiving a degree from St. John’s University, the would-be A.D. taught math at Woodbury from 2000 until 2004, when he moved into the role he held until 2009 - when he took the activities director job at Edina.