Haas Wants Investigation of Waring School Sale
By Kevin Lavery, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – St. Louis school board member Bill Haas wants an investigation into the sale of a city elementary school.
He says Waring Elementary did not fit the district's criteria for closure when it was sold to St. Louis University last November. Haas wants authorities to determine if the sale was legitimate, or done as a favor to the university. SLU plans to raze the school to build an arena.
Interim superintendent William Roberti says he'll sue Haas if he's accused of any criminal wrongdoing.
"I am not going to have my personal reputation impinged or impeded in any way," Roberti said at Tuesday night's meeting. "And I let him know that if he makes any statements or tries to implicate me in any way criminally, I will sue him to the fullest extent of the law personally."
Haas says he would not blame Roberti for doing so.
"I think that's a fair position for him to take," Haas said. "I'm not implicating anybody on anything. But I think my calling for an investigation of whether wrongdoing was done; if it was put on there for reasons other than the benefit of the school district, we all will agree that wrongdoing was done."
Board members on Tuesday night rejected Haas' resolution asking for their support of an investigation.
The district sold the property to St. Louis University last November. That has Haas questioning whether a deal was made between the university and Vince Schoemehl, a board member and director of Grand Center.
Schoemehl says at first, he mistakenly thought the property was Woerner School in south St. Louis.
"We went for about a week thinking this school was not for sale," Schoemehl said at last month's announcement of the site for the SLU Arena. "And then I drove by here one day and noticed that the name of the school was Waring School, not Woerner School. So I called him back and said I was wrong; it is for sale. So, it didn't affect my vote at all, and I think the process we went through was eminently fair."
St. Louis University plans to demolish Waring School to make way for a new $70 million arena.