Monday, July 7, 2014

Audit Response/Update on Open Records Requests

We would like to address the findings of the audit recently released by the Oak Ridge School system. This audit was conducted after our son, Alex Heitman, died unexpectedly in the summer of 2011. We’ve tried for nearly three years to obtain public information from your school system, police department and court system with very little success. We were first notified of this audit two days before it was released to the press by Dr. Bruce Borchers when he informed us on June 18, 2014 that he was responding to a press inquiry.

It is important for people to understand that most of the findings, eleven of fifteen, reveal that though there were a number of ways that Alex could have transferred funds into his personal possession, no such transactions were found.

Since the release of the audit, we have attempted to obtain the documentation that supports the findings. The auditor refuses to provide the names of the clerks who are referenced in the findings as having processed the transactions, and the Oak Ridge Schools refuse to turn over any documentation on the basis that we are not Tennessee residents. They have informed us that if we recruit the assistance of a Tennessee resident, they will charge no less than $2,000 for this information we have requested. We will seek out alternatives and clarification in the coming weeks.

At this point, we see no reason to believe that these findings directly or definitively prove that Alex did anything wrong. To start, the suggestion that Alex purchased for himself an iPad “that was not discussed with or approved by his supervisor” is absurd since his supervisors were very aware of it because there are a number of work emails that contain the phrase “sent from my iPad.” We also found where his supervisor, Karen Gagliano, acknowledges his possession of the iPad in this email discussion they had just 10 days before he died. 

As we have explained elsewhere, most of the charges that were questioned are attributable to his educational expenses (he was a graduate student.) Alex took this job in large part because he had an agreement with Dr. Tom Bailey that the school system would help pay for his continuing education. According to the auditor, Dr. Bailey was included in these audit discussions. We would like to know if he acknowledged this agreement but presume that he did not or it would not have been annotated in the findings.

Because two of the findings rely heavily on the claim made by Karen Gagliano that Alex used her signature stamp without her permission, we have requested a copy of the log that would track whomever had access to it. This log may be key in establishing the veracity of Ms. Gagliano’s claim since, according to at least one past employee, her signature stamp was easily accessible and used by most of the accounting office.

We also know that both Gagliano and Bailey’s signature stamps (and possibly software, banking data and digital fingerprints) may have gone missing for a two week period about four months before Alex died. Anderson County Clerk, Tyler Mayes has declined to provide us with the court documents that explain how these internal items came into the possession of Gina Austin, the creator of over $6,000 worth of counterfeit checks. Mr. Mayes, did, however, verify that the Board of Education Chairman, Keys Fillauer, was also the sitting Grand Jury Foreman at the time (and has been since 2006) who Alex may have been testifying in this case. 

We believe that Ms. Austin may have had an inside connection into the school administration. Given the security breaches that Alex was trying to correct, even in the last week of his life, maybe that connecting person knows more about the events detailed in Dr. Bailey’s memo to police two days after Alex died. Maybe that person was someone Alex had identified or was on the verge of identifying when he was cooperating with multiple anti-fraud efforts. We may never know because of the high level of secrecy involved in Grand Jury Proceedings. Therefore, we publicly call upon Mr. Fillauer to help us understand his role on both bodies and the details that Mr. Mayes refuses to provide. 

We continue our appeal to the public. If you have insight into what was going on in the Oak Ridge Schools in 2011 or what happened to Alex the day he was forced to forego his vacation and instead meet the demands of Dr. Bailey, please contact us at

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