Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 15, 2013 School Board Meeting Public Comment

I spoke at the January 15, 2013 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting during the Public Comment session. I thought it would be helpful to share with the community what I presented to our school board. Please share this with your friends and neighbors so they can be more aware of some of the issues going on within our school district and why it is important that they attend school board meetings, contact their school board members and voice their concerns.

The following text is what I read to our school board members at the January 15, 2013 board meeting. When I finished, I was met with a standing ovation.

Over the last several years I have attempted to encourage you to do the right thing and you have repeatedly failed to do so.  I have invested thousands of hours into researching how our school district operates as well as that of other school districts across the state, and across the country.  During which, I have gained a tremendous amount of information and knowledge.   Much to my disappointment however, I have come to the realization that the school district that I grew up in and loved as a child is not at all what I thought it would be when my children began attending.  We have a lot of great teachers in the district, however, the leadership and school board has stifled their abilities to do a great job – even made them fearful for their jobs if they were to express their opinions.  Tell me, is this how a school district should be run?
I have requested for our community to have board meetings video or audio recorded due to the fact that our board minutes are vague or not always accurate.  I have requested that school board meeting information packets be published online prior to school board meetings or after board meetings along with the minutes so our community can be more informed and involved in what is going on within our district.  Our school board policies even require that board minutes be accurate and complete and without the board meeting information packets they are not.  I have requested that school board member contact information be placed on the district website so our board members would be accessible to the community.  All of these things are done in other school districts.  Why can’t our school district do these things?  I have never received an answer from our school board as to why these things cannot be done.  Our superintendent has informed me that this information is not on our website which I am aware of and that is why I have been asking for it to be.
It is my hope that you respect the others in our community that may speak at this evening's school board meeting and that the individuals in our school community refrain from making defamatory comments in online forums in the coming days as has been done to me after I have spoken at previous school board meetings.  Those who are making the defamatory comments have no business teaching our children, running our school, etc. if they are employees of our school district.  I believe that they are, because no one other than those present in this room at those past board meetings had knowledge of who was present and what was said.  They are simply playground bullies.  Our district has a no bullying policy but it appears that it does not apply to school officials.

It is clear that you have embarrassed not only our school district but our community.  Our district is not as well respected or as academically advanced as you tout or would like to believe.  You may complement each other here and pat yourselves on the back with the thought that you believe that you are doing a great job.  However, a growing portion of the community does not share your same point of view and neither does the community of our peers in surrounding school districts.  I respectfully request that our current school board members resign and that past board members do not seek re-election.  There are administrators that should resign as well so our school district and community can get a fresh start towards building a new and improved school district and one that we can truly be proud of.

Thank you!




So, how did Dianne Critchlow's secretary/school board secretary document in the board meeting minutes what I said at the Fox C-6 school board?
PUBLIC COMMENTS: 
Rich Simpson - Requested more board information on the district website.
My comments were straight and to the point. But they weren't disrespectful. Not at all like the comments that were being posted about me online.

If anyone were to read the board meeting minutes sometime in the future, there was little to no evidence of what concerns I brought to the school board that night. This is how the community has been kept in the dark for years making it easy to give the appearance that things are going great.

And, since the school district has not responded to my requests to audio record board meetings, there's no other proof of what was said at the meeting. That's why I audio record the board meetings that I attended.

Since it was school board appreciation month, the following was recorded in the board meeting minutes:

VISITOR RECOGNITION: 
Dr. Critchlow thanked the Board for their dedication and leadership to the District. 
The Board was recognized by various schools in the district in recognition of National Board of Education week.

You can download a copy of the board meeting minutes using the link below:


It was good to see so many concerned parents and citizens in attendance at the meeting. It sent a strong message to our school board and administration that the community is now aware of the fact that there are problems in our school district.

Three parents spoke at the meeting. Voicing concerns with the Fox C-6 school board brings with it the honor of being chastised in online forums by those who believe they are untouchable in our school district and want to hide the truth from the public.

However, this time, the defamatory and derogatory comments and name calling in online forums began during the day before the meeting even started. Their comments were clearly meant to intimidate anyone who was considering speaking at the board meeting.

The community should be quite concerned with the fact that there are people in our school district who think they can make open ended threats in hopes of keeping people from voicing their concerns to the school board. But, from what I have learned over the last several years, it appears to me that this has become standard operating procedure for our school district.

How did I know about these comments? I have been monitoring the online forums for more than 2 years ever since the first defamatory and derogatory comments were posted about me and my family. Comments were posted online about me only hours after I spoke at the December 2010 school board meeting. Since then, there have been numerous posts of defamatory, slanderous and vulgar comments directed towards me and others who have voiced their concerns about our school district.

Is that the type of behavior that the community expects from a National District of Character?

The last time I posted on the forum was January 11, 2011. That was more than 2 years ago! Yet, there are those who believe I still post on the forum. That's what happens when you voice your concerns with our school board!

ALL of the 18 comments that I posted were made between November 2010 and January 11, 2011. My comments were statements of Fact and weren't defamatory or derogatory. 

I was providing facts to the public since the school district was hiding the information from them by poorly documenting board meeting minutes. In fact, I would highly encourage our school board to find out who it is that has been posting the defamatory comments that others have stated were made by me without any proof that I made them. I believe their investigation would incriminate several directly associated within the school district and that would not be good for them.

It is quite obvious to the community that many of the defamatory comments being directed at myself and others who have voiced their concerns are being made by administrators, board members or their friends and family. All of their prevaricating is finally catching up with them and it appears that things are starting to spiral out of control for our school board members and administrators.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How the Community of De Soto Ousted their School Superintendent

In May 2012, the community of De Soto, Missouri banned together to remove their school district superintendent.  A letter dated May 7, 2012 was sent to the school board from patrons, parents and employees.  The school board voted 6-0 at a May 29, 2012 school board meeting to put their school superintendent on administrative leave and suspended him from his duties. In November 2012, the departing superintendent was paid a severance package as part of a settlement agreement.

A November 13, 2012 article in the Post Dispatch describes how citizens in the community of De Soto, MO ousted their school district superintendent.  There were also stories on KMOV and in the Leader newspaper.

November 13, 2012 Post Dispatch Article
November 13, 2012 Post Dispatch Article Comments


November 13, 2012 KMOV News Story


LEADER
NEWS STORIES



Thursday, January 17, 2013

FACT CHECKING - January 2013 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting

Fact Checking School Board Meetings

There were many more parents and patrons in attendance at the January 2013 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting than at past meetings.  When I attended the December 2011 meeting, there was only myself and a reporter.  So, it was good to see community interest and support at the meeting.  I know for many this was their first board meeting and many did not know the protocol; because it isn't really made available.  From speaking with many of them afterwards, they told me it was not at all what they expected.

One of the first things you need to learn about our board meetings is that everything stated isn't always fact and that you must always check everything.  And, since you can't speak out after public comment, you don't have a way to correct school officials during the meeting.  You may have also noticed that our superintendent and board members tend to embellish their "facts".  There are also those half truths where some information may be left out purposefully in order to keep from exposing things that might not reflect as well for the district.  One of those pieces of information was the reporting of the Percentage of Graduates Taking the ACT compared to the state average and other schools. This report was left out of the November 2012 board meeting presentation .  So, it really is important that you verify everything that was said at the board meetings and in the board meeting minutes.

Since our school board meetings are not currently recorded by the school district, I record them when I attend.  This needs to be done in order to get accurate information. Our board meeting minutes don't always reflect what was stated during the meeting. Or, there isn't enough detail to know what was discussed or commented on.  I believe this is done by design. Our school board secretary informed me via email that she does not transcribe board meeting minutes from an audio recording and simply documents what is heard.

What Stood Out At The Meeting?
  • Public Comments - Citizens Want Change
  • The Facts About Our School Calendar, Comments from Our Superintendent
  • $18.5 or $23 Million Dollar Bond Issue - "Fantastic News for Our District"

Public Comments
There were 3 Public Comments at the board meeting from parents in the district.  All 3 expressed their disappointment in both the school board and the school district administration.

You can download a copy of my audio recording of the school board meeting.


The Public Comments can be found in my school occur at these time points in the audio recording:
  • 16:28 - Rich Simpson
  • 19:50 - Michelle Tyler
  • 23:37 - Mark Paul
I asked why our district cannot do what they do in other districts.  I have been requesting the following for nearly two years and have not received any answers from our school board.  If our superintendent is going to compare us to other school districts and state how we are among the top school districts in the state, then our school district should be doing what those other top districts do as well!

Here is what I requested (again):
  • Audio Record or Video Record board meetings and post those recordings on the district website.  This would circumvent the problem that we currently have with trying to learn what happened at a board meeting due to the fact that our board meeting minutes are vague or not always accurate.
  • Publish school board meeting information packets online prior to school board meetings so our community can be more informed and involved in what is going on within our school district.
  • Publish school board member contact information on the district website so our board members would be accessible to the community.
I also respectfully requested that our current school board members resign and that past board members do not seek re-election.  I also stated that there are are school administrators that should resign as well so our school district and community can get a fresh start towards building a new and improved school district, one that we can truly be proud of.

It was the first time I ever received a standing ovation after making Public Comments at a school board meeting!  To the parents and taxpayers in attendance at the school board meeting, I say Thank You for your support.  It was definitely good to know that our community has an interest in our school district and that they want to see change as well.  It takes two people to start a movement according to this TED Talk video by Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement. The video itself is a bit funny. However, the message for everyone in our community is that by joining together, you will have the courage to stand up and have your voices heard and make positive changes in our school district. The more people that get involved, the quicker the changes will occur. Soon, no one will be sitting on the sidelines because they won't be part of the crowd.

While your looking at www.TED.com, you may want to check out some of the other great TED Talks from people like Salman Kahn (Khan Academy), Ken Robinson (Education Reform), Arthur Benjamin (Mathemagic) and Steve Jurvetson (Model Rocketry) just to name a few.  Most TED Talk videos are both educational and inspirational.  TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design.  There is also a TED app for both Android and iOS.


The Facts About Our School Calendar
One of the statements that stood out to me at this board meeting was during discussion of Agenda Item 4.4 covering the 2014-2015 school calendar.  I believe that our superintendent was trying to impress the audience by stating that Fox has more hours in its school calendar than most districts in the area. That is simply not true.  I already knew that Fox has one of the shortest calendars in the state with only 170 days compared to Rockwood's 180 days.  I just didn't have the exact number of hours readily available to compare our calendar hours to other school districts in the area.  I downloaded the 2012 data from MO DESE and made them available in the table below so you can compare her statement against actual data.

To know what our superintendent said at the meeting, I transcribed the audio from my recording regarding the school calendar.  Compare what our superintendent said about Fox's school calendar to the data obtained from MO DESE.  I don't think her statements were very accurate or truthful.  But, it sounded good at the meeting I am sure.  Right before her statement, there was a question regarding the possibility of Missouri moving to a 180 day school calendar requirement from the current 174 days.


Here are our superintendents comments that were transcribed from my audio recording of the school board meeting:


63:34 - Dianne CritchlowMrs. Newman recall that we are one of the few districts that are in school as many hours a day.  So, if they change the hours, we’re probably still OK.
63:42Ruth Ann Newman – I wondered about that.

63:45Dianne Critchlow - We go more hours. And, we always have, than most school districts around.  So, I would think we would be OK unless they changed the EXACT number of days.

2012 CALENDAR SORTED BY TOTAL HOURS

District Name
DaysHoursLength of Day
MISSOURI
21013827.5
KIRKWOOD R-VII
17711626.6
ROCKWOOD R-VI
18011366.5
FERGUSON-FLORISSANT R-II
1791136 6.6
LINDBERGH SCHOOLS
17711296.5
PARKWAY C-2
1761128 6.4
DESOTO 73
17511286.7
JEFFERSON CO. R-VII
1681126 6.8
LADUE
1781124 6.5
CLAYTON
1811122 6.3
BRENTWOOD
1781121 6.4
FESTUS R-VI
1741120 6.7
WENTZVILLE R-IV
1771117 6.4
WINDSOR C-1
1701113 6.7
ST. CHARLES R-VI
1761111 6.5
NORTHWEST R-I
1701108 6.6
FRANCIS HOWELL R-III
1691102 6.6
DUNKLIN R-V
1691099 6.6
FT. ZUMWALT R-II
1751098 6.5
VALLEY PARK
1751096 6.3
FOX C-6
1701096 6.5
MEHLVILLE R-IX
1741094 6.4
WEBSTER GROVES
1771091 6.2
CRYSTAL CITY 47
1761086 6.4
HILLSBORO R-III
1741076 6.4


Bond Issue Problem
Did The Taxpayers Approve $18.5 million or $23 million?
In August 2012, the Fox C-6 taxpayers approved an $18.5 million dollar bond issue. However, on Saturday January 12, 2013, our superintendent informed the community that an alert that she posted a new Superintendent Message that had the following message in it:

"In November, 2012, when the first half of our bonds were issued (approximately 9 million dollars), the district earned almost 2.5 million dollars more than anticipated.  This was fantastic news for our district."

Why Wasn't The Public Informed Sooner About This Fantastic News?
If this was such "fantastic news", why did our school board and our superintendent wait nearly 2 months before informing the Public about our "fantastic news"?  The school district knew about this on November 1, 2012 when the bond sales was issued.  I checked both the November and December 2012 school board meeting minutes and there was NO MENTION of this "fantastic news" in either of the school board meeting minutes.  I think the public should be concerned about how this information was disseminated by our superintendent and school board.  That is not too mention the fact that the voters only approved an $18.5 million dollar bond issue instead of a $23 million dollar bond issue.

Here is a copy of the Missouri State Auditor's Offices' report of the Bond Issue.

Ask your school board members and superintendent why we weren't informed about this Fantastic News sooner.  Also, ask them why they kept talking to the Leader about the $18.5 million dollar bond issue in the December 2012 article about moving the administrators to the Service Center if they already knew that we had an extra $2.5 million dollars!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plans To Move The Administration Office Have Ceased!

On Saturday January 12, 2013, our superintendent sent out an email asking the community to visit the district website www.fox.k12.mo.us for an update regarding bond issue progress and recent safety and security initiatives.  I copied the alert from the district website as it was shown below.  She wanted to let the community know that plans to move the administration office have ceased.

She also presented new information regarding the issuing of the school bonds.

The following message was found on the school district home page exactly as shown below:
Attention all community members! The safety of our students is our top priority! The district will spend the extra bond issue dollars on buzzers and other security improvments. In light of the recent shootings at Sandy Hook, plans to move the administration office have ceased. Please check out our progress on the website.   All projects, as promised, will take place plus many more!  Please read more in the Superintendent's Message below.

Here is the Superintendent's Message:

Dear Parents & Community Members,
            I am writing to provide an update on what has been occurring in our school district with regards to the recent “No Tax Increase Bond Issue” and the safety of our students.
            In November, 2012, when the first half of our bonds were issued (approximately 9 million dollars), 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. Furthermore, we anticipate when the second half of the bonds are issued in late spring, we will receive another 2 million dollars more than expected. This means that our 18.5 million dollar “NO TAX INCREASE BOND ISSUE” has the potential to become a 23 million dollar “NO TAX INCREASE BOND Issue”, at NO cost to the tax payers.
You may ask yourself, how can this occur? 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 issue was run at the best possible time in today’s market. The important thing to keep in mind is that our students will benefit greatly.   Please check the district’s website for the progress of our bond issue.
            Our last Board of Education meeting was held December 11, 2012.  The Sandy Hook tragedy took place on December 14, 2012.  This created a heightened sense of security, for not only me, but for our Board of Education.  Discussions of moving the central office administration to the Service Center occurred at the December 11th meeting. However, the events of Sandy Hook were a reaffirmation of student safety. With that being our top priority, I believe we are the only district in the area that immediately scheduled a Safety Summit. The summit is scheduled for Jan. 31st. Please sign up on the district’s website to attend.   I feel very fortunate that we have the extra monies to spend on our children’s safety. The moving of our central offices is not a priority at this time.
            The safety of ALL of our students is just important to me, as it is to every parent in the school district. I, too, have children attending our schools. My husband and I have two children in elementary and one child in high school. I feel and understand your concerns. As a mother, and as the superintendent, I am taking every precaution possible to ensure the safety of ALL of our children. Buzzer systems are out to bid and the plan is to install the systems in every single district building as soon as possible. In addition, we plan to seek advice from the members of the safety summit to ensure some proactive measures to keep our loved ones safe.
As always, you can contact the district office @ 636-296-8000 and we would be happy to speak to any question or concern you may have. I look forward to seeing you at the next Board of Education meeting.
Genuinely,
Dr. Dianne Critchlow

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What Would Abraham Lincoln Say To Our School Board and School Administrators?


If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. 
- Abraham Lincoln



I can very confidently state that there is a growing number of parents and taxpaying citizens in the Fox C-6 School District that would tell our school board and school administrators the same thing.  However, there are many that will not because of fear of retribution from our school administrators and school board.

A growing number of patrons have little or no faith in the decision making abilities of our school board and school administrators.  The school boards disregard for community input and their lack of response to questions from patrons of the district has lead people to believe that board members are only in it for themselves or that they are trying to hide something.  By making it difficult or costly to obtain information that is freely shared with the public in other school districts only leads to more distrust.  The school board and school administrators have not yet gotten the message that the public is quite angered by their recent actions and that they are ready to ask them to resign or be fired from their positions.  They have violated our trust and therefore no longer deserve the right to be in charge of our children's educational future!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tell Your School Board That You Are Tired Of The Lies and Deception

Recently, our community was shocked by the announcement of the hiring of our school board president's daughter-in-law Kelly Nash as the Food Services Director for the Fox C-6 School District with a salary of $65,336 while only having a high school diploma and 17 years of management experience as an Assistant Manager at McDonald's. In the school district's job posting for the position, the district preferred candidates with a bachelor's degree and asked that certification as a Registered Dietician or SNS certification be obtained within the first 2 years. School board president Linda Nash's daughter-in-law did not have a college degree nor did she have the certifications. However, the school district is willing to give her 2 years to obtain them. Assistant superintendent Todd Scott and Tim Crutchley as well as former School Nutrition Services Director Candy (Sengheiser) Gruenewald felt that Kelly Nash was the most qualified for the job. And, Dianne Brown told us in the Arnold Leader that Kelly Nash did not get the job because of her last name. Really? If Kelly Nash HAD the credentials for the job, then being hired into the position may not have become such an issue. But, without the credentials, our school board has really broken the trust of the community!

Dianne Brown and Todd Scott both stated on Channel 2 news when interviewed by Elliot Davis that Kelly Nash was the most qualified person for the job even though there were other candidates that had the degrees and certification that the school district was looking for. Linda Nash even had her time in the spotlight in the You Paid For It! story as well and gave quite an odd response to Elliot Davis's question. When you know something isn't right and you are asked a question, you aren't going to look too comfortable when answering.

You Paid For It!
Just so everyone in the community knows, I was not the person that contacted Elliot Davis to come out and do a news story on Fox C-6. I wanted to publicy state that as I have had a few friends of mine ask me if I called him to do the story. No, I did not! I'm sure the school administrators and school board members think it was me because I have been asking them questions about what has been going on in the district for several years now and they don't answer my questions. Also, Cheryl Hermann saw me introducing myself to Elliot Davis just as he was leaving the service center on the night of the school board meeting. Cheryl was walking out to her car to get something just as I was arriving. I am sorry to disappoint the school board members and administrators, but I was not the person that called Elliot Davis to come out and do a story on our school district. I'm sure our school board members and administrators also believe that I have been posting on TOPIX for the last 2 years. Why is that? Well, there were comments directed at me on TOPIX the Saturday after I spoke at the December 2012 school board meeting. Sorry to disappoint you again, but the last time I posted on TOPIX was January 11, 2011. It has been nearly 2 years since my last post on TOPIX. All of my posts were facts about what was going on in the school district as I was trying to get information out to the public. My facts obviously touched a nerve with some people working in the school district as I have been mentioned quite often and those comments have usually been quite defamatory!

I had no idea that Elliot Davis was doing a news story on Fox C-6 until a coworker called me just after 9pm right before the first story aired. He told me to quickly turn on Channel 2 news because he had seen a teaser saying that Elliot Davis had been at Fox C-6 and he knew I would probably want to see it.

Elliot Davis did call me on Saturday night though after the first You Paid For It! news story aired. A parent had emailed Elliot Davis about other issues in the school district and Elliot contacted them to ask questions. When Elliot started asking questions that the other parent couldn't answer, they told Elliot to contact me because they knew I could.

School Leadership Lacks Credibility and Integrity
Currently there are quite a few problems in our school district. One of them is the lack of credibility and integrity in our school district leadership. When school superintendents give false information to try and deceive you and the community, then it is time for new leadership. The community needs to let their school board know that we need new leadership and we need it now. You can read in my other posts where our superintendent informed me in an email that the new draft copy of the school board policies weren't available for the public to review until after the school board adopts them. However, after I provided her a transcript of what she actually stated at the March 2012 school board meeting, she changed her stance and decided to provide me and the community draft copies of the new board policies like she originally said she would at the board meeting.

You can also read in my other posts where she told me why the school district doesn't post the board meeting packets online like they do at other school districts like Wentzville. She told me that Fox doesn't have a full time person like those other school districts to maintain their website and that Fox would rather puts its money into the classroom. Well, after making a Sunshine Law Request for the board packets and reviewing them, I discovered that our school district HAS had a full time person working as a web designer for the district for more than 7 years. So, that was another false statement from our superintendent. I guess she was hoping that I would be happy that she was putting all that money into the classrooms for our kids.

In another instance, Dianne Brown informed the school board in an email that she had discussed with me all of the issues that I had brought to the school board at the August 2011 board meeting in a conversation right after the meeting. She even went as far as to say in her email that she had asked me if I had any further questions and that I had told her no. However, as I learned a long time ago, I must record everything in order to have documentation as to what really happened. I have an audio recording of the August 2011 board meeting which I spoke at and the conversation that started right after the meeting ended. Dianne approached me right away after the meeting and told me that she knows our school website and Edline are a mess. I hadn't even asked about Edline and told her that I didn't use it much. However, my point here is that she made false statements to the school board regarding our conversation. I guess she thought she could get away with it because she told me in a conversation after the December 2011 board meeting when I confronted her about that email, that she had 3 administrators to back her up. I told Dianne, Dan Baker and Todd Scott that I had an audio recording to back me up. Todd Scott had even interjected when I confronted Diane and told me that "we've always done everything on the board, I mean above board". And yes, I was recording that conversation as well because as I said earlier, you have to have some way of documenting what really happened.

Would you believe an audio recording or our superintendent and her assistants?

Speaking of audio recordings, I was quite surprised when I heard that the school district attorney told a parent during a conference call that, "Tape recordings are notoriously unreliable." and that "there's no law that would give you the right to tape record".

I thought her comments were rather odd given the fact that Dan Baker, Gee Palmer and Luann Domek had recorded a phone conversation back in 2010 with one of our doctors and submitted it as evidence in a Due Process Hearing. Dan Baker DID NOT inform the doctor that he was recording their conversation. During the Due Process Hearing, Dan Baker and the district attorney were working to discredit another doctor that he also called and spoke with. However, Dan only took "hand written notes" of that phone conversation to back up what the second doctor said. When I asked him why there wasn't an audio recording of that phone conversation, he stated that it was late in the day and the doctor said they didn't have much time to discuss things. Really? It was odd that Dan started the audio recording of the first doctor's conversation before he even dialed the number. So, why wouldn't he have recorded the second call the same way and not record because she didn't have much time to speak?

I believe that we have a very serious credibility issue in our school district leadership and things need to change. You need to contact your school board members and let them know that we need new leadership. We also need new board members. Things have gotten out of control and it is finally all starting to be aired in the open thanks to the school board's recent hiring of Kelly Nash.

Our school board is supposed to represent the community. They are supposed to make sure that the district is being fiscally responsible and following state and federal laws. They are ultimately responsible for the hiring and firing of the superintendent(s) and other staff. If the school board is unwilling to answer questions from the community or answer questions as to why they are unwilling to publish Public Records on the district website, I think we have a very serious issue on our hands!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

If You Find Wrong Doing In Your School District, Report It!

If you find wrong doing in your school district, it is your duty as a citizen to report it.  That's what I was told to do by the Missouri DESE Compliance Officer back in 2008 after a phone conversation as to what was going on in the Fox C-6 School District.   The MO DESE Compliance Officer told me that I should file a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) because it appeared to him that our school district was not properly following the law.  However, if you file a complaint, you should be prepared to be retaliated against by your school district.  Well, at least that has been my experience and the experience of a couple of other parents that I know that have filed complaints or expressed their concerns with our school district, school board or school administrators.

MAY 2009 - Department of ED OCR Resolution Agreement
After 4 Years, Fox C-6 Has Yet To Fully Comply With Resolution Agreement

If our school district is truly following the law, then you should ask Mr. Dan Baker, assistant superintendent and the Fox C-6 School District 504 coordinator as to why the school district has still not fully complied with the Resolution Agreement that Mr. Baker signed in May of 2009 with ED OCR.  It has been nearly 4 years since Mr. Baker signed that agreement and the district has still been unable to comply with it.  There are several areas of the agreement that the district has not yet fully complied with.  One part of the agreement required the school district to update its policies and procedures, student handbooks and district website to more properly document and comply with federal laws.  It is my understanding from ED OCR monitoring letters, that this has still not been completed as of January 1, 2013.  The district has not yet updated their policies and regulations for simple grammatical and typographical errors. I first officially reported the errors to the school board at the April 2011 meeting.  Jim Chellew was documented in 2004 school board meeting minutes stating that school board policies and regulations are reviewed every year.  However, many policies and regulations still have typographical and grammatical errors that have existed since they were first adopted in November 1997.  As an example, one policy still has the text {common district name} in the policy where the template was not updated with the school district name.

MARCH 2010 - Washington DC Department of ED OCR District Wide Compliance Review
Fox C-6's District Wide Compliance Review Is Still An Open Investigation

Next, you should ask our superintendent and school board why the Fox C-6 School District is still undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review that was initiated by the Washington D.C. ED OCR Office in March 2010.  The District Wide Compliance Review WAS NOT initiated by a parent complaint as the school district and the school district attorney would like you to believe.  Mr. Dan Baker testified during a Due Process Hearing while being questioned by the school district attorney that it was.  However, documents from ED OCR show that this is not true.  District Wide Compliance Reviews are ALWAYS initiated out of the Washington D.C. Office.  The District Wide Compliance Review was requested by the Kansas City ED OCR Office to the Washington D.C. Office as a potential school district to perform a District Wide Compliance Review on.  Our school district was then chosen by the Washington D.C. ED OCR Office to undergo a District Wide Compliance Review after reviewing information provided by the Kansas City OCR Office.  Our U.S. Senators were notified of the District Wide Compliance Review in 2010 by the Washington D.C. office.


The District Wide Compliance Review is still open and ongoing.  I have asked our school board about the Compliance Review on multiple occasions.  I even received a response from the school district attorney telling me that there is nothing to report to the public about the review at this time because it is still ongoing and in doing so would possibly interfere with the compliance review.  If other law firms across the country are informing their school districts that Fox C-6 is undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review and teaching them how to avoid one, it would seem that it is only our school district that does not want the public to know about it.  It should be noted that Fox C-6 was only 1 of 2 school districts out of more than 20,000 districts across the country to be chosen in 2010 to undergo a District Wide Compliance Review for the area of concern that our school district is being investigated for.

AUGUST 2011 - USDA OCR Final Agency Decision Ruling
Fox C-6 and state of Missouri Found Non-Compliant With Federal Laws, Regulations and Guidelines

Next, you should ask your school board and superintendent why Fox C-6 and subsequently the entire state of Missouri was found to be Non-Compliant by the United States Department of Agriculture Office for Civil Rights Office (USDA OCR) Food Nutrition Services department in August 2011 with ADA, ADA AA, and Section 504 Laws and the USDA's Federal Regulations and Guidance.   Our school district filed an appeal with USDA OCR in November 2011.  However, the USDA denied their appeal in 2012 and has since been in involved in multiple discussions with the school district and the school district attorneys in an effort to bring our school district and the state of Missouri into compliance with Federal laws and regulations.  From information obtained from the USDA OCR Office, Fox has not yet complied with the USDA OCR Final Agency Decision as of January 1, 2013.  It has been nearly 18 months since the USDA Final Agency Decision ruling was sent to the school district and the school board.  Perhaps the school district does not want to comply with the ruling.  The USDA OCR Office has now handed the case over to the Department of Justice for enforcement.

As a patron of the school district, I will report wrong doing and will follow up with the federal agencies and the school district.  It is your taxpayer dollars that the school district is using to fight the federal agencies rather than comply with their requests.

You must ask yourself, why is our school district unwilling to comply with Federal laws?

Why would school district attorneys make Freedom Of Information Act Requests of the USDA for all correspondences between myself and the USDA?

My research has uncovered many issues and concerns.  In 2008, I forwarded a link to the USDA OCR Office of a video I found online that was made of a presentation given at the 2008 Missouri Annual School Law Seminar.  The video covered Section 504 Law and was being presented by school district attorneys from our state.  The presentation was educating Missouri school officials on Section 504 law.  The USDA OCR Office found the training in the video to be alarming and they considered some of the information being presented in the video to be incorrect according to Federal laws.  The video prompted training for the state of Missouri which was initiated by the USDA Colorado regional office.  No one from the Fox C-6 School District Food Nutrition Services department attended the training.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Speaking at School Board Meetings Results in Retaliation

I have spoken at several Fox C-6 school board meetings over the last couple of years.  The first time I made Public Comments at a Fox C-6 school board meeting was at the December 2010 meeting.  There were only 7 people from the community in attendance at that meeting.  My speaking at that board meeting resulted in defamatory comments being posted on the TOPIX.COM website.

The first TOPIX.COM post was made shortly after the board meeting that night. Since I was the only person who spoke at the December 14, 2010 school board meeting, the following post on TOPIX.COM was directed at me.

"I went and almost made a public comment then decided that in reality all of this chatter and such is really is none of my business. There was one guy who talked but I thought he was kinda MR so I didn't take him serious. Other than that.... Nothing. no matter what I type on here to stir the pot I truly don't have any proof or knowledge of these rumors. I am sorry for being so belittling and dumb. I just hope they can't get my ISP number and find out who I am."
The 7 people from the community, not including myself, that attended the meeting that night were two students who spoke at the meeting and their parents, Kim Robertson, the reporter from The Leader newspaper and a representative from an accounting firm. So, that only leaves school board members and some of Fox's administrators who were in attendance that night, who would have known that I had just spoken at the meeting.

I certainly doubt that the post was made by any of the community members who attended the meeting. However, it makes one question who would have posted the comment or conveyed the information to the person who actually made the post:

There was another post made on TOPIX.COM that was directed at me and my parents a week after the December 14, 2010 school board meeting.  The comments were mostly directed at me, but they indirectly referred to my parents.  I didn't realize that expressing concerns to our school board about their hiring practices would result in such comments.  However, once you've gone to a school board meeting at Fox C-6 and expressed your "concerns within the district" as my Public Comments were documented in the December 2010 school board meeting minutes, you become branded for life by the powers to be at the Fox C-6 School District.

I made my second Public Comment at the April 2011 school board meeting.  This was the meeting that had everyone under shelter for quite a while as a severe storm with tornado warnings blew through the area.  It was so windy that you could see the outside walls of the service center flexing in and out.  You can read about the questions that I presented to the school board at the April 2011 school board meeting in my May 17, 2011 email to the school board.  In that email, I documented the fact that Jamie Critchlow had approached me at the April 2011 school board meeting and told me that I was simply trying to, "stir the pot". It's funny how the post that was made on December 14, 2010 used the same phrase of "stir the pot" that Mr. Critchlow made to me at the April 2011 school board meeting.

I don't recall any specific retaliatory comments that were made on TOPIX.COM shortly after my April 2011 board meeting presentation, but there had been quite a few made between January 2011 and April 2011 and several were quite vulgar in nature.  I guess when you start asking questions of our school board and the school administrators, that a little intimidation usually puts an end to those types of questions.  But, I did not let them deter my efforts.

I next spoke at the August 2011 school board meeting and this time I started off by complimenting the school board for having the school district correct the 10 Elementary Student Handbooks that weren't up to date after downloading the Lone Dell Elementary Student Handbook from the district website.  I found that the Lone Dell Student Handbook was dated for the 2009-2010 school year and had the 2009-2010 calendar of events in it.  Lone Dell parents were told at Open House for the 2011-2012 school year that the student handbooks weren't going to be printed anymore and that they could be downloaded from the website.  I complimented the board after being scolded by Ruth Ann Newman, the school board president at the time, for never complimenting the school board for the great job they were doing.  So, after thanking them for correcting the handbooks which is required by state law to be kept up to date, I moved on to my concerns.

The next school board meeting that I made a Public Comment at was the December 2012 school board meeting.  I asked the school board again as to why they have been unwilling to publish the board meeting packets on the school district website like they do in other school districts.  That was the only concern that I presented at that school board meeting.  However, there were two other presenters at the December 2012 school board meeting that also voiced their concerns.  One was an NEA representative from Festus who spoke to the school board.  The other was a parent who expressed his concern over the recent hiring of our school board president Linda Nash's daughter-in-law as the Food Services Director for the school district with a salary of $65,336.  He expressed his concern after reading about it in the Arnold-Imperial Leader newspaper.  The newspaper article stated that her daughter-in-law Kelly Nash only had a high school diploma and had been an assistant manager at McDonald's for the past 17 years and that the school district was going to give her 2 years to obtain her degree or certification.  I didn't express my concerns to anyone on the school board or administrators that night about the recent hiring practices.  However, I did express my concern about the textbooks shortage in the middle schools though in discussions with school board members and administrators after the school board meeting.

So, I was quite surprised to learn that on Saturday December 15, 2012, there were new defamatory comments posted about me and my family on TOPIX.COM again.  I guess that the powers to be at Fox do not share the same interest I have in ensuring that our school district keeps the community informed about what they are doing by publishing the board meeting packets on the district website and exercising transparency to the fullest degree as one of our board members Dan Smith touted in his most recent election campaign for Missouri State Representative.

So, why do people attack my character and make defamatory and derogatory comments about me on the TOPIX.COM website?

I guess they attack me and my family because between November 2010 and January 11, 2011, I posted a total of 18 comments on TOPIX.COM which were all facts regarding my concerns in the Fox C-6 School District.  I found the TOPIX website while researching information in relation to issues going on in the Fox C-6 school district.  I found many people posting their concerns about Fox on the TOPIX website.  And, it was my opinion that the school district was not keeping the public informed or informed in a timely manner.  School board meeting minutes aren't posted until after the next school board meeting.  So, the school district has more than a month before anyone in the community really finds out about it.  So, I thought I would post the facts that I had researched.  I verified my facts before I posted them as I always do.  However, my postings were met with many negative responses and those responses could have only come from a very few people that were in the know of what had been going on in the school district if you know what I mean.

So, for everyone in the know at the Fox C-6 School District which would include school board members and administrators, I recommend that you re-evaluate your thinking because I am quite sure after reading many of the posts that were slanderous in nature and directed at me and my family that you believe that I have been posting on TOPIX.COM for the past 2 years.  Sorry, but you are ALL quite wrong in your thinking.  The comments on TOPIX don't count the attacks against me and my family that were posted by people in the know on STLTODAY.COM after the August 2010 Post Dispatch news story that I believe was written for the school district to make it appear as if they were properly following the law.

For our school board members and school administrators to even consider thinking that I would make the comments that people have pointed out as being made by me simply shows a lack of knowledge of my character, integrity and intentions.  You may wish to attack my character because in doing so, it makes you feel better about the things that have been going on in our school district for the last several years.  But, the comments that have been posted online and directed at me have been beyond belief.  The comments really do reflect poorly on the people that have posted them.  I never asked TOPIX to remove them as I wanted to make sure that when the truth did start coming out as to what has been going on in our school district that the community would be able to see first hand how a National District of Character treats the patrons and citizens in the school district for voicing their concerns.  Over the past couple of years, I have forwarded many of the comments on to our U.S. Senators and Congressman as well as to the USDA OCR and U.S. Department of Education (ED) OCR and the Department of Justice.  I guess everyone in our school district hasn't read Policy 0215 as they don't seem to be following it very well.  Perhaps it would also be a good idea for our school board members to read their Code of Ethics policy as well.

It certainly has been quite a learning experience over the last 4+ years when I began researching all of the issues and concerns going on in our school district.  I grew up in the school district and my parents devoted their entire professional careers to the district.  I also learned a great deal about the law as well as the founding of our countries education system and a lot about human nature.  I can say that I am a much more informed and better person for it.  It is definitely not what I had planned on doing with the thousands of hours that I have put into this project.  I can only hope that we soon get a completely new school board and a new administration who can show respect to the community and to the teachers and staff that work within our school district.

On January 11, 2013, it will have been two years since I made my last post on TOPIX.COM.  I think that an apology from those that have been posting negative comments about me and my family is in order to both me and my family and the community.  Your comments really do reflect very poorly on our school district!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 4, 2013 Sunshine Law Request for School Board Packets from August 2008 - March 2010

On Friday January 4, 2013, I made a Sunshine Law Request via email to the Fox C-6 school board secretary for copies of the school board meeting minutes with attachments (board packets) from August 2008 through March 2010.  I copied the email to our school board president Linda Nash, the school board vice-president Dan Smith as well as our former school board president Ruth Ann Newman and board director John Laughlin who was a former neighbor of mine.  I have been asking the school board to post these documents on the district website for well over a year and a half.  I never received a response from our school board regarding this issue.  However, I was told by our superintendent that Fox chooses to put its money in the classroom instead of paying to have a full time person to maintain our website like the other districts that do that posts these documents online.  You'll have to read my other post where I found out that Fox did have a full time person employed as a web designer and has been with the district for more than 7 years.

I wanted to share my me email request with the community in hopes that other taxpaying citizens will also make the same request to obtain these documents to find out where their taxpayer dollars are being spent.  And, if enough people start requesting this information, maybe the school will start posting it online like they do in other school districts for free.  I don't think the school district should be charging patrons to obtain these Public Records.  The school district didn't start charging me for these documents until after I emailed out the superintendent salary schedule to some of my friends right before the August Bond Issue Election.  Once word got back to our superintendent, I received a cease and desist letter and the district also felt the need to start charging me for these Public Records.

Originally, the district informed me that they only had board packets scanned back to April 2010 despite having PDF documents for board meeting minutes dating back to 2002.  So, I thought I would go ahead and request the documents back to August 2008 to match the board minutes that are currently posted on the district website.  During the writing of this post I noticed that there was a July 2008 school board meeting that year and so I will have to revise my request.  Fox no longer has July board meetings.  However, in August 2011 the board minutes originally stated that the board approved the June 2011 and July 2011 board meeting minutes despite not having a July meeting.  I emailed the board secretary and asked her to make the correction which she did.

The district is currently charging me for 10 minutes of work to search for and scan the documents into a PDF document at a rate of $33 per hour which equates to a salary of $68,640 per year.  That may seem a little high but it is the rate of our school board secretary who is also our superintendent's secretary.  When I questioned the rate, I was also told that she is the only one that handles the board documents and that's why the district charges that rate.  Missouri Sunshine Law states that the rate is not to exceed the average pay rate for all clerical staff of the district.

I have not had a single response from the district since I emailed this request yesterday morning.  However, I did receive a read receipt from both Linda Nash our school board president and Debby Davis the school board secretary.  The school district has 3 business days to respond to my request.  I am waiting to see if they are going to charge me again.


Here is a copy of the email I sent:



Mrs. Davis,


Per Missouri Sunshine Law, I am requesting an electronic copy of the August 2008 through March 2010 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting Minutes w/attachments documents be sent to me via email free of charge.  As my interest in these documents are not for commercial use, Missouri Sunshine Law Section 610.026 states, “Documents may be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge when the public governmental body determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the public governmental body and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester”.

Whether or not the school board or school district officials decide to continue charging for this documentation sends a strong message to the community as to how transparent our school district is with its information.  Prior to my request in September 2012, I was not charged for these Public Records.

I will again ask the same question that I asked our school board in my previous email to which I never received an answer.

Why is the school board unwilling to publish the school board meeting minutes with the attachments on the district website as they do in other school districts?

School board meeting minutes ARE NOT COMPLETE without the associated board meeting documents that the board meeting minutes reference.

I again encourage the school board to publish the board meeting minutes with attachments on the school district website.  By making these PUBLIC RECORDS available to the community, you can begin rebuilding the trust of our community.  It will also provide the community with a better understanding as to how much money it takes to run a school district and how their taxpayer dollars are being spent by our school board.

I look forward to receiving an electronic copy of the August 2008 through March 2010 School Board Meeting Minutes w/attachments documents.



Thank you,

Rich Simpson