AG Files to Stop Closure of Ponca City Children's Home
Attorney General Drew Edmondson today asked the Kay County District Court to block the closure of a Ponca City children’s home that threatens to displace 44 children just days after Christmas.
Edmondson is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the planned Dec. 31 closure of the American Legion Children’s Home and the January 2011 auction of the home’s assets. He is also asking the court to remove three members of the children’s home board, invalidate all decisions made during an allegedly illegal board meeting and appoint a receiver to manage the home’s assets.
Founded in 1929, the American Legion Children’s Home provides shelter and care for needy children focusing on descendants of active and former military servicemen and women. At the end of October, the home’s executive committee voted to close the home effective Dec. 31.
“Shame on the American Legion and especially the home’s board for their callous indifference to the plight of 44 children,” Edmondson said. “That it’s almost Christmas only serves to worsen the impact of this decision. This is not like the American Legion I have for so long admired.”
Citing a “valuable resource that provides a home and care for needy Oklahoma children,” Edmondson is asking the court for a restraining order forbidding the closure of the home until the court can hold a full hearing on the state’s request for an injunction.
The attorney general alleges the individuals interested in closing the facility violated Oklahoma statutes, and their actions should be invalidated. Specifically, the home’s board failed to provide annual meeting notices to the secretary of state and to post notice of each meeting as required under the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act. The board allegedly also failed to notify the attorney general of a change in the purpose of the home’s charitable trust as required by law.
Accusing three board members of breaching their fiduciary duties “with respect to managing and safeguarding the charitable assets” of the home, Edmondson is seeking to remove board president Art Besa, vice-president David Kellerman and secretary W.D. Wilson.
The attorney general also asked the court to appoint a receiver to manage the home’s assets. In addition to the residential house and the land it occupies, the home has cash assets of about $2.6 million and personal property assets including automobiles, furnishings, computers, electronics and other equipment and supplies.
Edmondson said the welfare of the children who call the facility home should come first.
“These kids count on the American Legion Children’s home for shelter, safety and sustenance,” Edmondson said. “To take that away is unconscionable. We must find a workable solution.”