Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcoming In 2017 By Looking Back In Time

2017 has arrived and Fox C-6 students don't have to go to school today like they did in 2012 when New Year's Day fell on a Sunday and students had to go to school on the Monday following New Year's Day. In fact, this year students don't have to go back to school until Thursday January 5, 2017.

So, it's a nice start to the new year having an extra day to spend time with the family. It would have been even nicer if it hadn't already been raining at 6AM while getting ready to go for a run. So, in the meantime I thought a quick post was in order to welcome the new year and reflect back on some of the changes that have occurred in the district since 2005 when Dianne Brown began her tenure as superintendent of the Fox C-6 School District.

One of the first things that came to mind was the opening paragraph from the Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, ..." I'm sure you can find a few things that may relate to the phrase above and the past decade of our school system.

I've spent a lot of time over the past 6+ years writing about some of the problems and issues that have plagued our school district for a number of years hoping to bring about change within the district by waking up the community as to what was going on. The community certainly wasn't alerted to any problems by what was documented in school board meeting minutes as to what I was questioning the board about at school board meetings during Public Comments. School board meeting minutes would document my comments as, "Concerns within the district".

Thankfully, things have greatly improved for the students and families in our school district since former superintendent Dianne Brown Critchlow "retired" on October 31, 2014. However, everyone will always remember the fact that Dianne Critchlow received a $130,299 payout for leaving the district. Luckily, her husband was fired and didn't receive a payout as well.

At the time of Critchlow's retirement, her base salary for the 2014-2016 school year was $267,468 as reported by the Post Dispatch in June 2014. In just a short time, Critchlow had risen to one of the top salaries in the state of Missouri for school superintendents thanks to the overly generous group of former Fox C-6 School District board members. They thought she was doing a great job and they rewarded her well. Critchlow's "retirement" salary was a far cry from where she started when she was hired as superintendent to succeed Jim Chellew when he retired after the 2004-2005 school year.

Critchlow was having one of those "best of times" situations in terms of salary when she retired.

The community, on the other hand, was having one of those "worst of times". The community wasn't happy about the amount of salary that the board had approved over the years. And, it was one of the most embarrassing moments for our community in the history of the district after the internet scandal became public in May 2014.

The salary and the internet scandal along with the hiring of a former board member's daughter as director of food service were some of the things that led to the "worst of times" for the many former board members who had been on the school board since Dianne Brown (prior to becoming Critchlow) had been promoted to the position of superintendent in July 2005.

It took several years for the community to wake up and vote out those board members who seemed to believe that they worked for the superintendent rather than the other way around. Critchlow's "retirement" and the removal of the long standing board members was one of the best things for our students, staff and the community.

It just took a long time for the community to realize that they weren't getting their money's worth. Dianne Brown / Critchlow did an exceptional job of hiding information from the public and was very good at making generalized statements at board meetings and to the press that gave the appearance that the district was doing great.

Improvements in Transparency
During Dianne Critchlow's reign as superintendent, getting access to school board meeting minutes, board packets and bill payments was a painful task. On top of that, the district billed me to obtain copies of those documents which should have been made available to the public on the district website like they are now. However, by keeping them off the website, the public was easily kept in the dark. Today, the district uses BoardDocs which makes school board meeting documentation and board member votes easily accessible and available prior to board meetings.

So, in that regard, transparency has greatly improved since the Critchlow era and the community now has a much better ability to monitor what's going on in the district and hopefully keep things from getting as bad as they did during Critchlow's heavy handed rule of the district.

Still Seeking Accountability
One of the major wishes for the community this year is to see former superintendent Dianne Brown Critchlow be held accountable for her actions during her tenure as superintendent. Taxpayers want more than just having Critchlow repay the taxpayer dollars that she used improperly or paid out improperly to her and her husband as documented in the May 2016 State Auditor's report. Taxpayers want to see justice served and not just a slap on the wrist like they've seen thus far.

It's very easy for anyone to find the numerous articles documenting the many wrongdoings of former superintendent Dianne Critchlow and her husband using Google. Hopefully the St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney will review the many articles and documents when reviewing Critchlow's case. Not providing credit card statements to the school board to review in their board packets or refusing to provide them to the public certainly raised "red flags".

The internet scandal is what really helped open everyone's eyes as to what had been going on in our school district for quite some time. Traffic to all of the problems I had been documenting for years on my blog all of a sudden shot up dramatically when it was linked to by the Post Dispatch. It was difficult for most people to believe that this was the way that some administrators in our school district had been handling things. But, our district is not alone in this sort of behavior. I have been contacted by others over the years who have had similar issues of being bullied by their districts as well after reading my articles. Bullying is just one way of keeping things status quo and from being held accountable.

Looking Back in Time
For the new year, I thought you might find it interesting to look back in time at the Fox C-6 School District by reading the article referenced at the end of this post. In a February 2014, I documented how to use the Internet's Wayback Machine to look at snapshots of websites over the years.

It's quite interesting to look back in time to see how Fox's website has changed over time. The Wayback Machine allows you to look back at snapshots of the Fox C-6 website dating as far back as 1999. Fox's website has radically improved since Dianne Critchlow "retired" and the district hired a communications coordinator.

2004 - Brown Hired as New Fox Super
One of the most interesting things to note from my February 2014 article was a reference to an Arnold-Imperial Leader article written by Kim Robertson on November 24, 2004 that was published on the district's website back then. The article was titled, "Brown hired as new Fox super". The article talked about assistant superintendent Dianne Brown being hired to be the district's next superintendent after Jim Chellew retires on July 1, 2005.

The 2004 article mentioned that Dianne Brown will be paid at least $135,217 for the 2005-2006 school year. That's a long way from the $267,468 base salary that Dianne Critchlow was being paid when she retired in October 2014.

Below is a link to the article I wrote in February 2014:


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Fox C-6 Community Survey Results Presented at December Board Meeting

The results of the recent 2016 Community Survey were presented to the school board at the December 20, 2016 Fox C-6 School Board meeting by Patron Insight who conducted the survey.

The December 20, 2016 school board meeting audio is available on the district website allowing you to listen to the presentation. I listened to the audio presentation to hear the results presented below. Patron Insight told the school board that they would provide the district with a PDF copy of the results to be posted on the district website for the community the day after the board meeting.

The audio of the December 20, 2016 Fox C-6 school board can be found using the link below which can be found on the school district website. The presentation of the survey information begins around 5 minutes into the audio:


At the bottom of this post is a link to the contract from Patron Insight who conducted the 2016 Fox C-6 Community Survey. The cost of the survey was $16,900. The contract was awarded at the October 18, 2016 Fox C-6 school board meeting.

The 2016 Community Survey questions were made available to the public on the district website starting December 2, 2016 and was closed sometime before December 15, 2016. Dr. Wipke sent out an email to parents in the school district about the online survey on December 2.

The Community Survey results presented to the school board at the meeting only included the results from the 400 phone interviews that were conducted by Patron Insight.

Only 281 surveys were completed using the online community survey. Patron Insight is still processing the 281 responses that were completed using the online survey and will include those results in their final report to the school board.

It took nearly 2000 phone calls in order to complete the 400 phone surveys. The phone interviews were only conducted in entirety of taxpaying head of house held individuals living within the district.

Below are some areas of interest pointed our during the presentation from the survey results:

Number One Area The Districts Needs To Improve Upon
Management of tax dollars was the number one area that citizens taking the survey felt that the district needed to improve upon.

Patron Insight stated that management of tax dollars is one of the top answers in just about every school district surveyed.

82% of those surveyed believed that the district was headed in the right direction.

Where Do People Get Their Information About the District?(Ranked in order)
1 - Friends and Neighbors - 81%
2 - Leader newspaper - 78%
3 - Teachers - 52%
4 - Administration - (% not mentioned)
5 - Board - (% not mentioned)
6 - District's website - 41%
7 - Principals - (% not mentioned)
8 - School websites - (% not mentioned)
9 - Media and local radio stations - (% not mentioned)


Of those surveyed:
142 - Current student families
108 - Past student families
150 - Never student families


Potential Tax Increase Related Questions
There were three questions on the survey that were related to a "what if" potential tax increase to get a idea as to how much of a tax increase the community would favor related to rebuilding or expansion projects for school buildings, upgrading of the security systems, funding of additional teachers, support staff members, social workers through the district and College and Career Specialists at each high school as well as insuring that the salaries for teachers and other staff members were competitive with neighboring school districts and help with recruiting and retention.

One of the ideas presented in the rebuilding projects outlined is to completely replace with new schools - Antonia Elementary and Seckman Elementary. The survey question stated that both of these schools have significant issues due to the age of the buildings and both are dealing with overcrowding. Antonia Elementary would be rebuilt on the same campus as Antonia Middle School, while Seckman Elementary would be rebuilt on the same campus where the current school is today.

Another proposed project is to tear down and then rebuild the classroom wings at Fox High School, to make the classrooms more effective for today's educational needs.

Another proposed project is to add classrooms at Ridgewood Middle School and Antonia Middle School, to address the growing student population at both of these schools.

In the tax increase related questions, three different potential tax increases were presented as "what if" questions on the community survey. They were posed as potential tax increase amounts per year based upon the "fair market value" of a $150,000 home. The amount of tax dollar increase would affect what could be achieved out of the items proposed.

Of the 3 potential tax increase related questions:
  • 51% would be in favor of a $313 per year tax increase
  • 52% would be in favor of a $228 per year tax increase 
  • 56% would be in favor of a $142 per year tax increase


Potential Tax Increase Questions as presented on the survey:

21. What if, at some point in the future, the district proposed a ballot issue would allow the district to complete most, if not all, of the projects we have just been discussing, and it resulted in a tax increase of about $313 per year, or about $26 a month, for the owner of a $150,000 home in the school district. If an election on such a ballot issue were held today, would you…

- Strongly favor
- Favor
- Oppose
- Strongly oppose
- Don't know

22. What if, instead, the ballot issue allowed the district to complete many, but not all, of the projects we have just been discussing, and it resulted in a tax increase of $228 per year, or about $19 per month, for the owner of a $150,000 home in the school district. If an election on such a ballot issue were held today, would you…

- Strongly favor
- Favor
- Oppose
- Strongly oppose
- Don't know

23. What if, instead, that ballot issue allowed the district to complete some, but not many of the projects we have just been discussing, and it resulted in a tax increase of $142 per year, or about $12 per month, for the owner of a $150,000 home in the school district. If an election on such a ballot issue were held today, would you…

- Strongly favor
- Favor
- Oppose
- Strongly oppose
- Don't know


Survey Takeaways
One of the comments that I have heard more than once about the survey, is that the community is not going to approve any tax increases until our former superintendent is held accountable for her actions.

The audit results documented that taxpayer dollars were used by our former superintendent to purchase personal items as well as on overpay her husband for a position that he was not qualified for.

It's been nearly two and a half years since a state audit was requested of the Fox C-6 School District. The results of the audit weren't made public until May 2016 and patrons and taxpayers are still waiting for accountability for what was uncovered in the audit.

Rebuilding the trust of the community is important to passing a tax increase. Not holding public officials accountable for their actions does not go very far in rebuilding the trust of the community.

Does that mean that future tax increases for our school district rely upon the decisions of prosecuting attorneys?

Below is a link to the contract from Patron Insight that the district approved and awarded at the October 18, 2016 school board meeting:

Friday, November 4, 2016

ACT Scores Drop Below National Average for Fox C-6 and Missouri for 2016

In July, ACT.org posted the analysis reports and scores for each of the individual states on their website for the graduating class of 2016. On August 24, 2016, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) posted the following News Release regarding the results of the first ACT test that was administered to all 2016 graduates during their 11th grade year as part of the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP 5).

August 24, 2016 Missouri DESE News Release
https://dese.mo.gov/communications/news-releases/results-first-census-administration-act®-released-missouri-students

It wasn't until just a few weeks ago, that Missouri DESE made the scores available to the public for each of the school districts on the DESE website.

2016 Graduates Required to Take ACT as Juniors
Because all graduating seniors for 2016 were required to take the ACT exam, the number of students in school districts across the state increased which led to a drop in the Average Composite ACT Score for the state as well as a drop in the ACT Composite Score in many school districts as well.

Missouri's ACT Composite Score as well as Fox's ACT Composite Score dropped below the national average in 2016. The main reason that Fox's ACT scores dropped significantly is the fact that Fox previously had only as high as 62% of the students taking the ACT compared to other school districts such as Rockwood and Parkway where all students had been taking the ACT for a few years.

On the positive side, it should be noted that several Fox C-6 schools were recently recognized for their MAP scores.


2016 Average Composite ACT Score Results
National ACT Composite Score dropped from 21.0 for 2015 to 20.8 for 2016.

Missouri's ACT Composite Score dropped from 21.7 for 2015 to 20.2 for 2016.

Fox's ACT Composite Score dropped from 22.6 for 2015 to 20.5 for 2016.

This was the first reporting year in which the ACT results in Missouri could be compared statewide in a more apples to apples comparison since all 2016 graduates had been required to take the ACT during their junior year under the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP 5) as part of the College and Career readiness program.

Below is a link to Missouri DESE's information page regarding the statewide ACT assessment and administration of the ACT test to all 11th grade students. Testing dates and FAQ's can be found on the DESE website using the link below:
https://dese.mo.gov/college-career-readiness/assessment/act

On the Missouri DESE website, you can generate reports comparing school district data such as the ACT Composite Scores for selected school districts such as the one below that I generated and exported to a PDF document. The report compares school district data dating back to 2007 for the districts listed at the end of this article:


Missouri DESE College and Career Readiness Data
School district data for College and Career readiness can be downloaded from the MO DESE website using the link below:
https://mcds.dese.mo.gov/quickfacts/Pages/Career-Education.aspx

Missouri DESE also breaks down ACT composite scores by school building where you can find a comparison between Fox and Seckman High Schools. A little bit of rivalry between the high schools might be helpful in improving ACT test scores.

For a guided inquiry lookup to school district data from MO DESE, use the following link:
https://mcds.dese.mo.gov/quickfacts/SitePages/DistrictInfo.aspx


ACT.org Data
You can view ACT.org's Condition of College and Career Readiness reports on their website using the link below:
https://www.act.org/content/act/en/research/condition-of-college-and-career-readiness-2016.html

Missouri's 2016 College and Career Readiness Report from ACT.org:
https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/P_26_269999_S_S_N00_ACT-GCPR_Missouri.pdf

In 2013, I wrote about my concerns about the number of Fox students that were taking the ACT test compared to other school districts in the state. Back then, former superintendent Dianne Brown Critchlow was always touting Fox's ACT scores while neglecting to provide the percentage of students taking the ACT that she was comparing to Fox. You can read my article from 2013 using the link below:


Preparing for the 2017 ACT Test
This year's 11th graders still have time to prepare for the April 19, 2017 ACT test next spring when all 11th graders in Missouri are required to take the ACT as part of Missouri's MSIP 5 testing.

There are websites where students can practice sample questions and get immediate feedback on their answers for free such as CrackACT.com. Students can also download sample tests from ACT.org as well as CrackACT.com. Fox C-6 now offers an ACT preparation class as part of their course offerings. There are also inexpensive websites such as eKnowledge.com where you can register for a year's worth of ACT practice and training material for around $14.99 per year. It's very beneficial for students to take practice tests and study their English and math skills ahead of taking the ACT test.

There is also still time to register for and take the ACT test on December 10, 2016 as a practice as well.

Please visit Fox's College and Career Readiness page on the Fox C-6 School District website for more information:



October 2016 Fox Focus Newsletter
Last month, Fox C-6 mailed out a Fox Focus News and Information newsletter to the community highlighting some of the recent happenings in the school district. Many things have changed for the better over the past couple of years in the school district since the debacle of deception, finances and bullying that was going on in the district. Parent and community involvement is very important towards moving the district and the culture in a positive direction.

The October 2016 Fox C-6 Focus Newsletter, published the 2015 ACT scores for Fox C-6 along with the percentage of Free and Reduced Lunch Population compared to a few other districts in the area. The number of students receiving Free and Reduced Lunch is usually noted because there have been studies showing how test scores are affected for students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program.


Below is a comparison of Fox's 2016 ACT Composite Scores to many of the local school districts in the state from data obtained from Missouri DESE's website which was referenced above. The data is sorted by the ACT Composite Score and number of graduates (descending).


2016 ACT Results for Missouri School Districts

District Name
Percent of Graduates TestedNumber of  Graduates for 2016Rank in State out of 437ACT Composite Score
CLAYTON98.65222126.5
LADUE94.30316225.7
ROCKWOOD
95.691808324.0
WEBSTER GROVES
96.39305423.9
PARKWAY
93.831296523.9
KIRKWOOD
95.75447623.4
BRENTWOOD98.4665723.3
LINDBERGH94.204831022.6
VALLEY PARK98.46651422.2
FRANCIS HOWELL92.8313801522.1
LEE'S SUMMIT95.5913291822.0
FT. ZUMWALT93.3614303321.5
WENTZVILLE92.589714921.1
MEHLVILLE95.278245820.9
PATTONVILLE87.413976420.8
FESTUS96.071787220.6
FOX C-693.458707920.5
ST. CHARLES95.623658020.5
AFFTON90.861868120.5
JEFFERSON COUNTY R793.94669520.3
MISSOURI (statewide)91.7068,446n/a20.2
CRYSTAL CITY95.354312519.9
WINDSOR C-190.7223715619.7
DUNKLIN R-V92.598116419.6
NORTHWEST R-I93.2946216919.6
HILLSBORO R-III93.2826818319.5
DESOTO89.9520921319.3
GRANDVIEW R-II93.597840516.7


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

UPDATED! Fox C-6 Pay Scales and Raises Explained by Fox CFO

ARTICLE UPDATED at 6:00PM with information provided by Fox CFO John Brazeal

This evening, I received an email from Fox CFO John Brazeal informing me that my original article was inaccurate. Mr. Brazeal provided the following explanation so I could correct my inaccuracies informing me that I had been fooled by vocabulary word choices.

Thank you to Mr. Brazeal for providing the following detailed explanation as to how our district's pay scales work and what is currently being done to align our district's pay scale as our school district moves forward.

"There are 2 types of pay increases: (1) step increases, meaning moving up one step on the pay scale, and (2) cost-of-living increases, meaning adjusting all the wage or salary amounts on the pay scale.
The complaint of the person that sent you the email is not that she didn’t receive a step increase in pay rate, but rather that a cost-of-living adjustment was not applied to the pay schedule so that classified employees would receive both a step increase along with a cost-of-living increase. And yes, I did state that cost-of-living adjustment to the pay schedules are unlikely as long as there is no growth in district revenue. It was stated that eligible employees would continue to receive step increases. 
You should know that all employee groups are treated in similar fashion. For 2016-2017, none of the pay plans or pay schedules for any employee groups received a cost-of-living adjustment. In other words, the same pay schedules for 2015-2016 were renewed for 2016-2017 with the exception of a few changes, such as a decrease in the range for certain administrative positions and an increase in the pay range for school nurses. With the same pay plans in place, the following procedures applied to step increase movements for 2016-2017: 
Teachers that are not at top-of-scale on the teacher pay schedule will receive a step increase in pay in a range between 2.4% and 2.5% for 2016-2017. Teachers at the top-of-scale or above the top-of-scale on the teacher pay schedule will not have an increase in pay. 
Classified staff that are not at top-of-scale on the classified pay schedule will receive a step increase in pay. The classified staff within the first 15 steps of the schedule will receive an increase in pay ranging between 2.2% and 3.2%. Classified staff within the last 10 steps of the schedule will receive pay increases in the range of 0.5%. Classified staff at the top-of-scale or above the top-of-scale on the classified pay schedule will not have an increase in pay. 
Administrators that are within the first half of the pay range for their position received a 2.0% increase in pay. Administrators that are within the second half of the pay range for their position received a 1.0% increase in pay. Administrators that are at the top-of-scale or above the top-of-scale of the pay range for their position will not receive an increase in pay."



[Original Article Below Posted]
Concerns were brought to the attention of the school board, local news stations, the Leader, myself and JeffCo Penknife over the weekend via email regarding pay freezes for classified staff at Fox C-6.

Classified employees were told that they would not see a cost of living raise until the district gains back its integrity with the community at which that time the district would ask for tax money from the taxpayers to then be able to reward classified employees with a cost of living raise.

Facing a pay freeze and and increasing health insurance costs has been a concern for our district's classified employees (bus drivers, food service, maintenance workers, aides, etc.).

The concern from the employee / taxpayer to the Fox C-6 Board of Education was the fact that the Fox C-6 Board of Education voted to approve raises for administrators at the February 16, 2016 school board meeting for the 2016-2017 school year while classified employees (who make the lowest wages) in the district are on a pay freeze.

The board meeting agenda item 7.1 Administrator Contracts from the February 16, 2016 school board meeting has the 2016-2017 Administrator Salaries listed in the Administrator Modifications PDF document for the school board to approve.

From a transparency standpoint, the Administrator Modifications report that was provided to the school board and the public did not include the 2015-2016 administrator salaries. The Administrator Modifications report only listed the new salaries that become effective on July 1, 2016.

In the past, I recall seeing salary modifications reports provided to the school board that listed current salary and the new salary. It certainly makes it much easier to compare the amount of raises being given.

You can view the BoardDocs Agenda Item 7. 1 for Administrator Contracts from the February 16, 2016 BOE meeting and the Administrator Salary Modifications report using the links below.




Thursday, June 23, 2016

Arnold-Imperial Leader Article titled "Bad bonds" about Fox's Bond Issue Fiasco!

An article in this week's Arnold-Imperial Leader covers the $18.5 million dollar bond issue that was approved by voters in August 2012 and documented as a serious problem in the May 2016 State Auditor's report.

The state auditor's report claims that Fox C-6 will spend an additional $5.6 million dollars in interest because of how the bonds were sold.

The article references former Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow's letter that explained how "all the stars aligned for the school district" when the district "earned" an extra $4.2 million dollars on our bond sale.

Voters approved an $18.5 million dollar bond issue in 2012, not a $22.7 million dollar bond issue.


On January 13, 2013, I wrote an article about a letter from former Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow that contained some of the phrases that were referenced in today's Arnold-Imperial Leader article about the 2012 Bond Issue.

Critchlow wrote in her letter that,
"the district earned almost 2.5 million dollars more than anticipated. This was fantastic news for our district. So much so, that we asked the building principals to put together additional lists of wants and needs for their respective schools due to the extra funding."

She went on to explain how it occurred. She wrote that,
"As much as we would like to predict the market, we can't. However, all the stars aligned (and the market) for the school district."

The letter was referenced in an alert that was posted on the district website letting the community know that plans to move the administration office have ceased.

You can read Critchlow's entire letter to the community using the link below:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Breaking News! Fox C-6 State Audit to be Reviewed at June 14, 2016 School Board Meeting

Breaking News!

Tuesday June 14, 2016 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting will include a Review of the
May 2016 State Audit Report

The Fox C-6 School Board Meeting agenda for Tuesday June 14, 2016 was updated today to include a review of the May 2016 State Audit Report. The links below go to the Fox C-6 School District BoardDocs pages for the agenda items.

Fox C-6 received a rating of "POOR" on the May 2016 State Audit Report which is the lowest rating given by the state auditor's office.


A draft budget for the 2016-2017 school year is also included on the agenda.

Public Comments
Anyone wishing to make a Public Comment at the June 14, 2016 meeting must submit an outline of your remarks on the Public Comments Information form by 6:45PM.

A link to the policy for making Public Comments can be found on the Patrons Comments Agenda Item below or download the Public Comments Information form directly using the second link:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Former Superintendent Critchlow Asked Her Cabinet To Post Positive Comments About the District on TOPIX

Recently, I posted the handwritten notes former Fox C-6 assistant superintendents Tim Crutchley and Todd Scott wrote after their conversation with former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow in which she told them that her husband Jamie Critchlow had been posting comments on the TOPIX.COM website. As I mentioned in that post, getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from some of Fox's former school district administrators had been a huge problem for years.

According to Tim Crutchley's deposition, former superintendent Dianne Critchlow had been concerned with comments that were being posted on TOPIX.COM for quite some time. Mr. Crutchley stated that comments on TOPIX were discussed quite often in their "cabinet" (assistant superintendent) meetings. In fact, she asked her "cabinet" (the assistant superintendents) to post positive comments on TOPIX about the school district in response to the comments that were critical of the district.

Former superintendent Dianne Critchlow's directive lead to some administrators posting comments on TOPIX.COM during the school day as well as at home. Not all of the comments posted were positive as you can see by reading the ones listed in the exhibits in the lawsuit that was filed with Jefferson County courts in November 2014.

Comments Posted On TOPIX from Fox's IP Address Date Back to 2010
Some of the earliest posts made on TOPIX that came from the school district's IP address date back to October 2010. They were made by a user named "Bullwinkle" who responded to a post that I had made on Topix regarding my concerns about the school district's open District Wide Compliance Review.

Former superintendent Dianne Brown was not happy that we had filed an OCR complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in August 2008. And then in March 2010, Washington D.C. Office of Civil Rights informed superintendent Brown that her school district would be undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review adding insult to injury.

Making the public aware of the District Wide Compliance Review was something that former superintendent Dianne Brown didn't want. When I would ask the school board about it during public comments, Dianne would respond saying that it couldn't be discussed due to litigation. But, there was no litigation related to the Compliance Review. Stating that there was ongoing litigation was a simple way to make everyone believe that it couldn't be discussed. It was simply another tactic used to keep people from questioning things in the district. The District Wide Compliance Review was an investigation of the school district's Section 504 practices.

So, when a comment was posted on TOPIX by Bullwinkle referencing the recent Due Process decision for the OCR complaint, it was very obvious to me as to who would have posted that online comment. I just couldn't prove at the time that the comment came from a school district computer.

Dianne Brown and former assistant superintendent and Section 504 Coordinator, Dan Baker, had both been involved with the OCR complaint and Due Process Hearing as well as the District Wide Compliance Review in 2010 and were aware of the recent ruling.

So, when it was confirmed that Bullwinkle's comment that was posted on TOPIX.COM on November 16, 2010 came from a the school district's IP address, it helped validate my suspicions.

Below is part of Bullwinkle's comment that was posted on TOPIX. The comment seems to have a bit of an attitude resonating from it: 
"Channel person. You must be the disgruntled parents over the OCR case. get over it! you lost."
The Due Process Hearing ruling had made by an attorney who was hired by the school district and who just happened to be a former law associate in two different law firms of the attorney who represented the school district during the Due Process Hearing. The attorney hired by the district to hear the Due Process Hearing was supposed to be "Fair and Impartial" but that was not the case. That's just how the game has been played in our state for a very long time.

Bullwinkle also responded to another comment in which I had talked about speaking to Fox's school board president in 2008 about speaking to the school board and superintendent Brown blocked the school board from speaking to me. When superintendent Brown arrived at the meeting, she told me that the school board had already decided not to speak with me.

However, the board president at the time wasn't aware of this decision as we were already speaking about getting on next months agenda since he had forgotten to put me on the agenda for that evening. Apparently, superintendent Brown forgot to tell him that "he" had already decided not to speak with me. Superintendent Brown seemed to be the only person who knew that the school board had decided not to speak with me.

Bullwinkle didn't catch that my comment was about speaking with the board president in the fall of 2008. I guess being angered by information being posted in a public forum that had been kept quiet for so long was causing unrest in the upper ranks. My comment related to this incident caused Bullwinkle to post the following comment on TOPIX.COM:

11/16/2010 - 08:10AM
"The school board president is a female and has been president since early last spring you dip stick. 
Mr Critchlow, I will call you and we can start our own campaign against these crazy parents.. LOL Perhaps we can find them something to do at your school... hahahaaa"
Bullwinkle posted 5 comments on TOPIX.COM during October and November 2010. Several of Bullwinkle's online posts made "positive" comments about superintendent Brown and the school district. Bullwinkle certainly wanted to make sure that the community was aware of the great job that superintendent Brown was doing for our school district.

What helped confirm my suspicions that Bullwinkle was most likely superintendent Brown, was that the language and writing style used by Bullwinkle was strikingly similar to that found in the Superintendent Messages written by Superintendent Dianne Brown that she posted on the district website and also published in The Rock newspaper.

There was no doubt in my mind as to who Bullwinkle was who was posting on TOPIX defending superintendent Brown and responding to criticisms that were made on the Fox High School Superintendent thread.

Even though Bullwinkle didn't post that many messages, the phrases and keywords used by Bullwinkle gave you the impression that you were reading comments written by superintendent Dianne Brown herself.

Here are some of the phrases and keywords that stood out in Bullwinkle's comments. Compare the phrases to those used by former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow in her Superintendent Messages from 2010 to 2013:
  • Kudos to you
  • second to none
  • I applaud
  • I'm proud of
  • positive attitude
Below are the comments posted on TOPIX by Bullwinkle back in 2010 that originated from the school district's IP address with the dates and local time that they were posted online.

it may have just been a coincidence, but when the following message was posted in 2010, two of superintendent Brown's kids had already graduated from the district.

10/19/2010 - 9:51AM
This is obsurd. Those of you who are relishing in these rumors are worse than the rumors theirselves. Complete rubbish. I have two kids that graduated from the district. Couldnt be more impressed with their experience and education. I applaud the superintendent and all her efforts. Her personal life is exactly what it is. Hers...not yours! Get a life people!


The last paragraph in the following comment sounds very much like one of superintendent Brown's Superintendent Messages:

11/05/2010 - 11:19AM
Who here has been divorced or has had a close friend or relative get divorced? Because your not a public figure does that give all of us the right to judge you/her? Nope dont think so. One thing thats a common factor here is about the kids. Do you think your children would be proud of you guys posting negative remarks about their teachers and administration? Think about that... 
I love humans nowadays. Collectively forming a cyber‐subpar lynch mob with nothing to do other than try to tear people down. 
As you judge others always keep in mind you too will be judged when your time comes. 
Im proud of the school district. Its teachers, faculty, administration and staff are second to none. Kudos to you guys!!! I know your doing everything you can to help our children succeed.
The next comment posted by Bullwinkle was intent on defending superintendent Brown who had been getting criticized online about her close relationship with Jamie Critchlow. The last paragraph of the comment reminded everyone how much the school board held superintendent Brown "in high regard and have nothing but the utmost respect for her." Bullwinkle also reminded parents to have a "positive attitude".

11/08/2010 - 10:33AM
"Dear unknowing fellow constituents,...

I am amazed that any of you morality, podium pounding blabber‐mouths feel you have any right to judge. Do you know the superintendant or any of the people being accused on here? What are your facts? I'm sure you caught wind of a rumor and you took it to the highest level without knowing a damn bit of whats going on. Have you lived in her house? Have you been in her former marriage? Have you had her confide in you why she got a divorce? NO... you have not and don't kid yourself if you think you have a clue. This is where the term "hypocrite" applies. 
I know the parents and board hold her in high regard and have nothing but the utmost respect for her. And my opinion still remains the same. Get a life and find a positive place in your head to venture to. The world is crappy enough without this rubbish and your nonsense. Be a parent with a positive attitude...not a bad one."
Below is the comment posted by Bullwinkle in response to my comment about being blocked from speaking with our school board by superintendent Brown at the September 2008 school board meeting. In September 2008, Mr. Wes Griffith was the school board president:

11/16/2010 - 8:10AM
The school board president is a female and has been president since early last spring you dip stick. Again...more lies to harm others. 
Mr Critchlow, I will call you and we can start our own campaign against these crazy parents..LOL Perhaps we can find them something to do at your school...hahahaaa
Below is the complete comment that was posted by Bullwinkle in response to my comment on TOPIX about the District Wide Compliance Review being conducted by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). In the same post, Bullwinkle responded to another person, not me, who used the screen name "Please". "Please" had been making comments about relationships in the work place:

11/16/2010 - 10:03AM
Channel person. You must be the disgruntled parents over the OCR case. get over it! you lost. 
"Please" You are correct in that affairs in the work place are frowned upon and Im sure Paul would agree with you. However, making accusations without proof is slander and you, my friend, are crossing the line repetitely. You lose. get over it! 
Put your name out there like Mr Critchlow did. Hes being ripped on here too and I applaud him for his righteousness.
The person posting as Bullwinkle from the school district's IP address was certainly impressed by superintendent Brown and thought that the school board held "her in high regard". It was certainly entertaining to see the similarities to Bullwinkle's comments and superintendent Brown's Superintendent Message.

I wrote an article about this back in July 2014 titled:

What Got Our Educators Riled Enough To Write Defamatory Comments?



Comments Posted From District and Home Computers and Cell Phones
If you read through the exhibits in the publicly available lawsuit, you will see date / time stamps and an IP address recorded for each post. The school districts IP address was documented by MOREnet. Other IP addresses that were traced back to individual homes and cell phones were verified by the respective Internet Service Providers.

You'll probably notice that not all of the posts made on TOPIX that were traced back to the school district or to the homes or phones of school district administrators were "positive" posts.

The dates and times in the exhibits from TOPIX.COM are in Pacific Standard Time. So, you must to add 2 hours to the times that are documented in military time in the exhibits. The text of the lawsuit didn't properly document the times when they were converted from the exhibits into the lawsuit text.

Did Jamie Critchlow Use a Personal Computer?
In Tim Crutchley's notes of his conversation with Jamie Critchlow, Mr. Crutchley documented that Mr. Critchlow didn't use any district computers when he posted comments on TOPIX.COM, "We asked if he used personal or district computers and he said he used personal computer."

Did Mr. Critchlow tell the truth when he told Mr. Crutchley that he didn't use a district computer?

On November 16, 2010 at 7:49AM, there was a comment posted on TOPIX by someone using the screen name, "Jamie Matthew Critchlow". The online post was removed from TOPIX long ago but was provided by TOPIX when subpoenaed since it originated from the school district's IP address.

The original comment posted by the screen name, Jamie Matthew Critchlow was as follows with the exception that I redacted part of the phone number that was made in the original online post and in the lawsuit exhibits:
Public...let me introduce myself. I am Jamie Critchlow. Principal of the Bridges program at Fox C‐6. I have been made aware of this website and rumors as of late. I am on here to speak to you as a concerned parent. I am truly apathetic for anyone who finds comfort in these negative words. Dr Brown and I are great friends who have found solitude in each others friendship through difficult times. The light in which both she and i have been shed on this website is at best ridiculous. If you have any questions you would like to ask please call my personal cell at 314‐775‐XXXX.
Read through the TOPIX.COM posts that are documented in the lawsuit that was filed electronically in the Jefferson County courts in November 2014. You can see just how many comments were made on TOPIX from the school district's IP address. The district said they were unable to trace which specific computers the posts came from when asked to do so. However, there's definite pattern in choice of screen names and content in many of the online comments.

Hopefully reading through the online comments will give everyone a little more perspective as to why I've put so much time and effort into documenting what was going on in our school district. It's important to get the facts and the truth to the public so this type of behavior never happens again in our school district.

Fox's former superintendent, Dianne Brown/Critchlow invested a lot of time and effort into hiding information from the public for years. That allowed her to get away with a lot of things that never should have happened. It's very well documented in emails to board members and administrators as well as audio recordings of school board meetings and more as to what was going on.

It's extremely hard for anyone to even imagine that this sort of harassment could or would occur especially since it was being done by some of the top administrators in our school district.

It's even harder to imagine that our Fox C-6 school board members did nothing to stop what was happening in our school district as I repeatedly spoke to them and emailed them about this harassment for years.

In 2014 after obtaining IP addresses, we provided the lawsuit information to the Office of Civil Rights since this sort of behavior would surely be considered retaliation under Section 504 Law. However, the Office for Civil Rights told us they couldn't do anything until there was a court ruling. We also spoke to the Department of Justice as well.

It's a pretty poor system when things like this cannot be stopped. Perhaps this will be a lesson that everyone will learn from.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

May 27, 2014 - Critchlow Tells Crutchley and Scott That Her Husband Was Posting on TOPIX.COM

I'm glad to see that the Fox C-6 community is finally questioning all of those denials of wrong doing over the years by former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow.

Telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was a huge problem for some of Fox's school district during the Dianne Brown / Dianne Critchlow Era of our school district.

Seeing some of the comments posted by parents, taxpayers and students on some of the news sites and Facebook helps validate years of work spent chasing down and documenting the corruption going on in our district as school board members turned a blind eye.

Below is a link to a few pages of notes written by former assistant superintendent Tim Crutchley and former assistant superintendent Todd Scott on May 25, 2014 soon after Dianne Critchlow informed them that she knew that her husband Jamie Critchlow had been making posts on TOPIX.COM. Dianne met with Tim Crutchley and Todd Scott shortly after the Post Dispatch newspaper published a story about the internet scandal lawsuit.

Their notes aren't very detailed. But, I thought it would be helpful for the community to get a glimpse at some of the things that were going on behind the scenes two years ago.

It's hard to believe that it's already been two years since the internet scandal broke things loose for the school district. It wasn't long after the internet scandal, that the credit card spending scandal hit the news. What a crazy time it was!

While Dianne Brown-Critchlow was touting Fox as being a National District of Character, she was busy padding her pockets and using district credit cards to pay for red light tickets and meals as well as purchase logging tongs, cameras and softball equipment on Amazon.com.

As documented in Tim Crutchley's hand written notes, Dianne Critchlow asked Tim Crutchley and Todd Scott to tell the board  "about her wanting to to retire right away and that she has gotten bad health news and was going on FMLA right away. She also wanted us to get board to move Jamie's retirement up right away because of her health concerns."

I'm betting that Dianne Critchlow didn't feel too well after being contacted by her Internet Service Provider and being told that their IP information was being requested for a lawsuit.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trust Me... I'm A School Administrator!

I recently received an email from the Trial Tips Newsletter titled, "Trust Me... I'm a Lawyer!" The title of the article piqued my interest after dealing with school district attorneys and administrators who didn't always tell the truth over the years regarding Section 504 issues and other issues at Fox C-6.

I started writing this blog to document the lies and deception employed by lawyers, administrators and staff that were used to get around federal law for years as well as giving the public the impression that everything was being done above board. Now that the state audit report has been released, the Fox C-6 community finally gets a more factual picture of what can happen when board members fail to respond to citizen's concerns. 

When it takes the U.S. Department of Educations's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) who is in charge of enforcing Civil Rights law, including Section 504, doesn't actually enforce the law but turns a blind eye, it's very easy for the public to get the impression or illusion that school districts are properly following the law.
 
The question is, Why did the ED OCR Office in Kansas City turn a blind eye for years rather than enforce the law?

The current OCR Enforcement Director recently told me there were "scores of reasons" as to why Fox's District Wide Compliance Review hadn't been completed for more than 6+ years. She told me that she wasn't able to discuss personnel issues with me. I voiced my concern with the fact that the Director of the Kansas City ED OCR Office and former Chief Attorney was legal counsel for the Kansas City School District prior to working for ED OCR. The Chief Attorney is responsible for signing off on Non-compliant findings.

The Kansas City Office for Civil Rights has allowed a Resolution Agreement between Fox C-6 and the Office for Civil Rights to remain open for more than 7 years. The Resolution Agreement spelled out what the district was to do in order to meet federal law. Fox's former law firm argued with ED OCR over some of the items that the district originally agreed to do which was negotiated by Fox's former law firm in the first place.

And, the Kansas City Office for Civil Rights has not completed the District Wide Compliance Review which was initiated in March 2010 which was investigating the practices of the Fox School District as to whether it was writing Individualized Health Plans for students instead of Section 504 Plans where students were qualified for Section 504. For those reasons, it's very easy to get the impression that school districts have been following federal law for years when in fact they have not.

A good example is when your school district is required to reinstate a Section 504 Plan that had been taken away 6 years earlier by the district's former assistant superintendent and Section 504 Coordinator. Fox's former Section 504 Coordinator was demoted after derogatory comments were traced to his home and the home of Fox's former superintendent who "retired" and who's husband was fired in 2014.
 
Advocating for what is right can be a very tedious and time consuming effort.

Educating parents, school board members and educators along the way will hopefully make it easier for anyone who has to navigate the 504 or IEP process or is put into the same situation. I quickly discovered that some lawyers will improperly train or mislead educators and school board members in order to support their agenda. 

You can certainly learn a lot about how to keep a watchful eye on your school district, MO DESE and the Office for Civil Rights when it takes years to get things corrected. Hopefully you won't have to.

Moving Forward with New Administration
Fox has many new administrators since the "retirement" of Fox's former superintendent in 2014 and the retirement incentive program ended in 2015. I think the district is headed in the right direction but it's going to take some time to rebuild that trust with the community. Only time will tell and having more watchful and aware citizens should help keep the district moving in a positive direction.

The Trial Tips Newsletter is a free weekly e-zine for trial lawyers published by Elliott Wilcox. I stumbled upon the Trial Tips Newsletter while preparing for a Due Process Hearing related to Section 504 issues with the Fox C-6 School District back in 2010 since we couldn't afford to pay $35,000 to $70,000 to hire a lawyer to represent us during a Due Process Hearing.

After reading the recent Trial Tips article, "Trust Me... I'm a Lawyer!", the first thing that popped into my head was a comment made by a Fox C-6 administrator at the start of our Early Complaint Resolution (ECR) meeting with attorneys from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) and a few Fox C-6 administrators and an attorney from the district's new law firm in August 2014.

ED OCR came to Fox to mediate the reinstatement of the Section 504 Plan that had been removed by Dan Baker, Fox's former Section 504 Coordinator, in September 2008. Yes, it really took 6 years to reinstate a Section 504 plan. It was helped by the fact that Fox had hired a new law firm and our former superintendent had "retired" and the fact that Fox's former Section 504 Coordinator had been demoted to a principal position in the district.

You may want to read the newsletter article prior to reading the next paragraph using the link below:


The comment made by the administrator in 2014 was, "And you all know, if anything, I'm honest to a fault." right before explaining why a document sent to us was different than the original document that was sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office for Civil Rights (USDA OCR) in 2013. The document sent to USDA OCR was used to close a complaint with USDA OCR that had been open since 2009. The comment made by the administrator above was what was explained in the article, "Trust Me... I'm A Lawyer!".

That comment really stood out as the administrator continued to explain how there were multiple drafts of the same document and that the wrong one had been sent, etc., etc. We had seen plenty of "mistakes" over the years of final copies of documents not matching the draft copies or not accurately reflecting what occurred during meetings. It was the same old stuff just a different day. It doesn't take too many of those occurrences for you to not believe what you are told by school district attorneys, administrators and even people in the Kansas City ED OCR office. KC ED OCR was always responding with nonsense as to why this or that was never done or how they were still working on things, etc., etc..

That little mistake in sending the wrong document to the USDA OCR was well noted by the National Director of USDA OCR. Just a couple of months after USDA OCR closed the complaint in 2013 based upon the letter that Dan Baker sent acknowledging a disability, Dan Baker convened a 504 Team meeting under ED OCR rules and denied 504 eligibility again. We called and spoke with the Director of the USDA OCR in Washington, D.C about what was done. He told me that, "they lied to my face" when they sent out the letter that closed the complaint. He explained how he had phone calls with Dan Baker and Ernie Trakas regarding their acknowledgement. The Director of USDA OCR informed the district in a letter that by acknowledging a disability to one federal agency meant that person would be eligible under a different agency such as ED OCR since it was the same law.
Trust
is a fragile thing.
Easy to break, Easy to lose
and one of the hardest things
to ever get back.

The newsletter article reminded me of another statement made by the same administrator who said, "And you all know, if anything, I'm honest to a fault.". During a 504 meeting in 2008 when the district was working to remove the Section 504 plan, that same administrator said, "Those were just my notes. Those weren't actionable items." when referencing "the plan" that was emailed to us documenting what the district planned to do earlier in the year.

We had taken "the plan" that was emailed to us to be actionable items since many of the things on "the plan" had been implemented as listed. However, some items on the list weren't implemented. Being told that the items on "the plan" were "just my notes" and "weren't actionable items" causes you distrust what you are told. It also makes you question other things you are being told by district officials.

The original "plan" that was emailed to us was not designated as a Section 504 Plan. That was sort of the crux of the matter since the list of accommodations looked like and smelled like a 504 plan.

It certainly seemed reasonable to think that the items on "the plan" were actionable items. But, when I asked during that 504 meeting in 2008 why some of the things listed on "the plan" weren't followed, the district attorney attending the meeting at the time, asked Dan Baker, if that was the "bulleted list" that I was referring to. It was easy to see that the attorney was already aware of that "bulleted list" aka "the plan".

Due Process Hearings are supposed to be "Fair and Impartial"
I had never been through a Due Process Hearing before so I started reading articles and books on the subject since we couldn't afford to spend $35,000 to $70,000 to hire a lawyer to represent us in a Due Process Hearing. That was the amounts quoted to us by several lawyers. So, it was a matter of getting up to speed quickly on Due Process Hearings and when I found several articles on the Trial Tips Newsletter that were very helpful.

Another reason for not hiring a lawyer and deciding to represent ourselves was the fact that the lawyers that we spoke with told us that the decision had already been made and that hiring them would be a waste of money. Well, that was after we told them who was representing the district and the name of the attorney who was chosen by the district as the Due Process Hearing Officer. A Google search quickly revealed that the Due Process Hearing Officer chosen by the district just happened to be a former law associate of the attorney representing the district. What are the chances of that ever happening?

People are very quick at pointing out that it didn't seem like we would be getting a "Fair and Impartial" Due Process Hearing after finding out that the district had chosen a former law associate of the attorney representing the district. That's why we decided to drop the Due Process Hearing. We knew there was no chance of winning. But, that's when Mr. Dan Baker stepped in and thought it would be good to go ahead and file a Due Process Hearing against us so the district could get some closure on the issue.

Why Fox Initiated Due Process Against Us
Below is a portion of the transcript of testimony given under oath by Dan Baker during our Due Process Hearing in May-June 2010.

Mr. Baker was questioned by the district's attorney as to why the school district decided to initiate Due Process against us.
Question (attorney): Now, recently did the district initiate its own due process against the Simpsons in relationship to the same issue that we're here for? 
Answer (Dan Baker): Yes, we did. 
Question (attorney): And can you explain to me why the district decided to initiate due process. 
Answer (Dan Baker): Yes. My thought was that there might be a chance that the parents, in my words, back out of the hearing that we're having now; and I just felt that getting some sort of resolution to this, some sort of legal vacuum to this other than going through the Office for Civil Rights, was definitely needed in this case. 
Question (attorney): And on what basis did you believe that the Simpsons might be canceling the hearing that was scheduled for this week? 
Answer (Dan Baker): Through correspondence that I had seen through the Office of Civil Rights asking about availability of dates.
You may be wondering why the district would want to spend tax payer dollars on legal fees to initiate Due Process against us since we were dropping our Due Process Hearing. We were too. But, after seeing our Due Process Hearing decision touted around the state by the former law firm as another case they had one in some of their seminars we knew why. 

Testifying in Jefferson City for SB 365
In May 2015, I was invited to testify in Jefferson City in front of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on a senate bill SB 365 sponsored by Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt. The senate bill was proposed because lawmakers in our state were very aware of the amount of tax dollars being spent on legal fees to deny or remove IEP's and/or Section 504 plans from students in our state. I shared some of our story with the Senate Education Committee.

The Missouri School Boards Association and the School Administrators Coalition testified against SB 365.

It's well known that some attorneys are denying or removing IEP's or Section 504 plans from students on the front end and then litigating the matter on the back end when parents work to restore what was taken away. You only have the choice of filing for Due Process or filing a lawsuit in Civil Court after a Section 504 Plan has been removed and you disagree with the District's decision. It's a win-win for attorneys.

The District had no reason to initiate Due Process against us. However, it worked out well for the attorneys in legal fees. It should be noted that the same law firm initiated Due Process against a family in the Wentzville School District a few years ago even after the family had pulled their child from the school district and no longer attended school in the district. Wentzville wanted to get "closure" on the matter just like Fox wanted to in our case. That law firm no longer represents Fox C-6 or Wentzville.

Hopefully School Board Members Will Question More as Well
It's important to understand some of the tactics used by some administrators and attorneys representing school districts in our state so you know what you may be up against.

I spoke with several school board members over the years on the subject of honesty and integrity. One former school board member who was on the school board prior to 2008, told me that we would never get a Section 504 Plan after the school removed it. Another former board member told me that if the board didn't think they should have to do something (provide a Section 504 Plan), they were going to fight it. I guess that's why it was OK to keep approving all of those legal fees over the years.

Whose to blame? Attorneys from Fox's former law firm had been telling educators not to give students 504 Plans for food allergies even if they were eligible for one since at least 2005. That's when a video presentation was posted on a law firm's website stating that position. The video had been recorded at the 2005 Annual School Law Seminar. But, there were also many students in our district who had been denied Section 504 Accommodation Plans for other medical disabilities as well. That's why the District has been undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review since March 2010.

Great Book to Read
In 2010 while preparing for our Due Process Hearing, I also read a book that I found extremely helpful. It was titled, "Disability Deception: Lies Disability Educators Tell And How Parents Can Beat Them At Their Own Game".

The title of the book turned out to be very true after dealing with some of our district's administrators and attorneys representing the district back then. I spoke with the author for quite some time and shared some of our experiences with her. We also talked about the lack of enforcement by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR). She was very aware of that problem as well.

The book Disability Deception is intended for parents and advocates who have students who need or require an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). But, much of that information can be applied to dealing with educators/administrators related to Section 504 law.

If you have a child with special needs or a child who has an IEP and you are having troubles dealing with your school district, I highly recommend reading the book which was published back in 2007. I have loaned out my paperback copy to several parents over the past several years. You can find the Kindle edition of "Disability Deception" on Amazon using the link below:


JoAnn Collins published another book in 2014 which I have not read, titled: "Slaying Special Education Dragons".

Hopefully a few people will find this article educational about some of the tactics used to get around federal laws like Section 504. It's simply amazing the amount of time and money that was spent trying to get around the law over the years.

Reports to the President and Secretary of Education
ED OCR has a new policy in that they post Resolution Agreements and District Wide Compliance Reviews on their website now so the public and other school districts can learn from their findings. Hopefully, Fox's District Wide Compliance Review that has been open for the past 6+ years will be available on their website in the next several months.

You can read about the new policy at ED OCR in the recently released report by the Office for Civil Rights to the President and Secretary of Education using the link below:


Thursday, May 19, 2016

While You're Waiting for Fox's State Audit To Be Released!

While you're waiting for the Missouri State Auditor's office to release the results of the Fox C-6 audit, you may wish to read the state auditor's report of the Lee's Summit School District which was released in February 2014. The Lee's Summit state audit will give you an idea of what an audit report looks like. The last state audit of Fox C-6 was completed in 2002. I wrote about that audit back in 2013. The link to that audit on the Missouri State Auditor's website has been moved and is no longer valid.

Why check out the Lee's Summit school district audit?
Well, the Lee's Summit superintendent and school board president and several board members are currently under fire by the citizens of Lee's Summit. Citizens are upset after it was brought to their attention that the superintendent was dating one of the attorneys for the school district and the superintendent was given a new 3 year $400,000 a year contract.

Citizens Voice Their Concerns During Public Comments
The April 2016 Lee's Summit school board meeting was refreshing to watch as the community rallied and citizens came to the board meeting to voice their concerns. However, many of them were shutdown by a district attorney asked to attend the meeting by the school board president. You'll want to read about the attorney hired by the district in the online opinion article posted by a Lee's Summit school board member on the Lee's Summit Tribune website which I have linked to further down in this article about keeping the public informed.

The April 2016 Lee's Summit school board meeting was video recorded by a parent in the district and at least 3 news stations. The video recording of the board meeting is definitely worth watching. Members of the community were there to voice their concerns about what they believed to be a "conflict of interest" with the law firm since the principal attorney of the law firm and the superintendent were dating. The attorney had helped negotiate his contract for the 2015-2016 school year in which he received a significant salary increase.

Watch the community's reaction as a different Lee's Summit's attorney stopped the citizens from voicing their concerns about their superintendent's new 3 year $400,000 a year contract because, it wasn't on the agenda using the links below. The first video link was recorded by a Lee's Summit resident. The second video link was a news story posted by Kansas City KSHB 41 Action News.

One of the interesting things about Dr. McGehee's salary was that he was receiving deferred payments which weren't openly reported in his salary disclosure to the community. He was being paid much more than the community thought he was being paid. Once the community found out about this and the relationship of the superintendent and the school district's attorney, they were very willing to voice their concerns to the Lee's Summit school board.

Read more about Dr. McGehee's contracts and deferred payments on the Lee's Summit Tribune website here:


Luckily, for the citizens of Lee's Summit, there has been a school board member who has been willing to stand up for the citizens who elected him rather than sit back and remaining silent. He was responsible for informing the citizens about concerns he had with what was going on in the Lee's Summit school district.

Lee's Summit Superintendent Placed on Paid Administrative Leave
According to an article in today's Kansas City Star newspaper, Dr. David McGehee has been place on "paid" administrative leave and Lee's Summit board president Terry Harmon has stepped down as the board president. Below are links to an article in the Kansas City Star and news reports from KHSB 41 Action News:




Remaining silent and allowing Fox's former superintendent to run the district is what led to the loss of respect of Fox's school board and administration under former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow's reign. Concern after concern was brought to the attention Fox C-6 board members for years and nothing was done about them. Eventually, the community recognized that there was a problem and board members were voted out of office.

It appears that the same thing has been occurring in the Lee's Summit School District for some time, just like what had happened at Fox C-6. The school board was being told about all of the awards and accolades that the district was receiving and the board kept increasing Dr. McGehee's salary without looking at the numbers. Lee's Summit citizens who have pointed out MAP and ACT score results which don't appear to rank the district where their superintendent deserves to be the highest paid superintendent in the state of Missouri.

Former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow continuously tossed out similar statements about awards and accolades which weren't necessarily academically related. Fox's ACT scores and the number of students taking the ACT had Fox ranked in the bottom half of the state. Voicing my concerns in this area were always met with snide remarks from our former superintendent. When the facts aren't as impressive as they want the public to believe, some superintendents will deflect the criticism and make it appear as if those voicing the concern aren't properly informed. Anyone, including our former school board members could have verified the data themselves on Missouri DESE's website.

Keeping the Public Informed
The Lee's Summit Tribune has an open online Opinion/Letter to the Editor section on their website. This is where Lee's Summit school board member Bill Baird has been able to expose some of the issues occurring in their district to the public. I commend the Lee's Summit Tribune for allowing citizens in their community to voice their concerns in an open and professional and manner in as many words as are needed. That is something that is severely lacking in our community.


It's good for the public to hear about some of the things that go on behind the scenes in school districts in our state. There are some very close relationships between some school superintendents and some of the attorneys representing school districts in our state. It reminded me of the documentation written up by former assistant superintendents Tim Crutchley and Todd Scott regarding their meetings with former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow and her husband Jamie Critchlow on May 27, 2014. Dianne Critchlow had called a meeting with Mr. Crutchley and Mr. Scott after an article was published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on May 23, 2014. Their notes documented that Dianne Critchlow knew that her husband Jamie Critchlow was posting on Topix but that she didn't say exactly what he was posting.

I found it interesting that Mr. Crutchley also documented that Dianne Critchlow contacted Tom Mickes of Fox's former law firm, Mickes Goldman O'Toole shortly after informing Mr. Crutchley and Mr. Scott about her husband's postings on Topix. A portion of Mr. Crutchley's documentation was redacted where he mentioned her phone call with attorney Tom Mickes.

While searching for the date that Fox's CFO John Brazeal requested an audit of the district, I came across the following article on The Missouri Volunteer Movement website. This article referenced several of my articles on this blog.


In August 2013, I had voiced my concern about the lack of details in our school board meeting packets and the payments to credit cards without providing any credit card statements. In that article I linked to the 2002 state audit of the Fox C-6 School District conducted by State Auditor Claire McCaskill. Below is a link to the August 2013 article where I had been voicing my concerns about the board packets and getting access to them. It had taken nearly 3 years of making requests to get the board meeting packets posted onto Fox's website.


It was February 20, 2014, when I wrote an article titled, "Why Does Fox C-6 Have a School Board?" in which I wrote, "Perhaps the community needs to request a state audit of the school district."

I'm glad that Mr. Brazeal requested an audit of the district. However, when audits take nearly 2 years to complete, memories begin to fade and people lose faith in the system. It's similar to waiting for nearly 7 years for the district to update and adopt a new set of school board policies and regulations. It was May 2009, when the district agreed in a Resolution Agreement with the U.S Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to update their school board Policies and Regulations to comply with federal law. There were several years spent rewriting the old policies which was never completed before having to switch over to the Missouri School Board Association's set of Policies and Regulations. This was done after the district fired the Mickes Goldman O'Toole law firm which was responsible for drafting and updating our school district's previous Policies and Regulations. 

School district administrators and school board members should be accountable for their actions. School board policies and regulations document their responsibilities and ethical standards they are expected to uphold. Any perception of impropriety or conflict of interest should be avoided.

Continue to check the Missouri State Auditor's website for the status of the audit using the link below:


You can review the 2002 Missouri State Auditor's report of the Fox C-6 School District using the link below. The link has changed since posted a I link to the report in 2013: