Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fox C-6 Board Member Touts Bringing School District to National Recognition

Cheryl Hermann is running for Jefferson County Council – District 2 in the November 6, 2012 election.  Ms. Hermann recently stated in the October 25, 2012 edition of The Leader newspaper that people should vote for her because, “My experience working collaboratively as a school board member, helping to bring Fox board from ineffectiveness, controversy and lawsuits in 2000 to a nationally recognized school district in 2012.”  Ms. Hermann did not say what kind of national recognition that the school district received.  But, a Google search for “Fox C-6 504 Compliance Reviews” will find presentations from across the country where Fox C-6 has been recognized nationally as being chosen as one of two school districts out of the entire nation that are undergoing a Discrimination Review being conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for ensuring access to appropriate services for students with medical and health conditions and impairments such as food allergies and diabetes.  This is definitely an honor to have been chosen as not too many school districts undergo District Wide Compliance Reviews nationally.  To save a little time, I have included one of the top results from a Google search from the Nashville Public Schools website: (

This was a presentation given by a law firm at the Spring Forum 2011.  You will be able to find Fox C-6 on slide #30 titled Current OCR Disability Discrimination Reviews.

Fox C-6 was informed of their impending District Wide Compliance Review in March 2010 by Russlyn Ali, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.  The District Wide Compliance Review is still ongoing as the district attorneys have notified me in the past when I made inquiries to the school board regarding this issue.  I also made Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information pertaining to the results of the Compliance Review.  At this time since the Discrimination Review is still ongoing and there is nothing to report according to the FOIA request response.

How long does it take to do a Compliance Review?

I would like to note that it is a fact that the Compliance Review is being conducted even if the district has not publicly acknowledged this information.

Another interesting Google search is for “Fox C-6 504 Resolution Agreement” which will also find presentations from across the country which documents a Resolution Agreement signed by the school district on May 1, 2009 which has an LRP publication number of (109 LRP 54751 (OCR 2009)).  Here is a direct link to one of the presentations discussing the Resolution Agreement at a national level and can be found on the Utah State Office of Education website: (

In the Resolution Agreement the district agreed to update its 504 Manual, policies and procedures to remove references to mitigating measures and to incorporate a definition of a person with a disability that is consistent with the ADAAA.  Revisions will include but not be limited to, defining 'major life activities' as they are defined in the ADAAA and removing references to any court decisions that were specifically rejected by the ADAAA.  Additionally, it was identified by ED OCR that district policies and student handbooks identified at least 7 different contacts as the Section 504 coordinator for the district.  One of which has been retired since 2008.

You may ask how long does it take for the district to update its documentation as requested?  School board members Cheryl Hermann and Dan Smith should be asking questions as to why it is taking the district so long to produce these documents?  Does it truly take more than 3 years to update documents in our school district?  This responsibility should also fall on the shoulders of the superintendent.  Does this demonstrate effective leadership or management skills?  It has already been more than 6 months since the 'completely overhauled' school board policies, regulations and forms were released for review.  The district informed ED OCR that they would be providing updated policies to ED OCR by August 28, 2012 as part of the Resolution Agreement after failing to meet previously set deadlines informing ED OCR that the update policies had to first be approved by the school board.  The school failed to meet that deadline and ED OCR extended the district deadline another 2 months.  Perhaps Cheryl Hermann and Dan Smith can explain why these deadlines are consistently not being met?

So, it seems that national recognition can have different meanings for different people.  And certainly the amount of legal fees spent in making corrective actions and challenging the U.S. Department of Education and USDA Final Agency Decision should be recognized as part of Ms. Hermann’s, “experience and proven actions as an elected official on the Fox school board.”  Those legal expenses can be found in the school board packets which contain the Check Register listings for payments made to vendors that are approved each month by the school board.  You simply need to know the name of the law firm or other law firms that have been involved in order to total up the cost to the taxpaying public.  Legal expenses have now exceed well over $200,000!

Ms. Hermann is running on the idea that she is “A Voice Of Reason and Common Sense!”  Is it Common Sense to fight the U.S. government with local taxpayer dollars?  Wouldn’t it have been much cheaper and easier for the school district to simply comply with Federal Laws rather than continue spending taxpayer dollars on legal fees?

I recently learned that a different attorney from the school district law firm has to get up to speed on these matters as the current one is retiring.  At least that was the reason given this time by Karl Menninger from the Kansas City U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) office monitoring the Resolution Agreement in a recent email.  However, this was the same reason given to Senator Roy Blunt’s office by the KC OCR office in May 2012.  It begs the question as to how long does it take to get up to speed?  Attorneys are needed to help review and help produce documentation that ED OCR has been requesting from the district since May 2009?  Luckily for the school district, ED OCR graciously continues to provide the district with new deadlines each time it doesn't meet them rather than take enforcement actions or reopen the investigation like their regulations allow them to do.  Per an email from Rosanne Shepherd of Kansas City ED OCR, “OCR is continuing our efforts to allow the District to comply with the voluntary agreement.  The District has not indicated they refuse to comply with the agreement, therefore, at this time OCR has not decided if it will reopen the investigation or to move to enforcement.  OCR will continue to monitor the District’s compliance with the agreement and will keep you informed of monitoring activities.”

Mr. Dan Smith another Fox C-6 school board member should also take credit for helping bring this type of national recognition to the Fox C-6 school district since he has been a school board director since April 2008 before all of this occurred.  By the way, Dan Smith is running for Missouri State House of Representative in District 113.

Maybe Dan Smith would be interested in answering your questions about spending your taxpayer dollars regarding these matters?

So, what kind of National Recognition would you like to see for Jefferson County?