Saturday, January 5, 2013

Emailing Fox C-6 School Board President Results in Superintendent Response

In trying to help educate our community as to how your current school board members handle concerns from patrons in the school district, I am sharing with you an email exchange from May 17, 2011 that I sent to Ruth Ann Newman. She was the Fox C-6 School Board President at the time I sent the email.  I also copied John Laughlin on the email since he was a neighbor of mine at the time. Mr. Laughlin had just been elected to the Fox C-6 school board. I emailed Ruth Ann Newman as board president since I had not received a response from the school board regarding the questions I asked the board during Public Comments at the December 2010 school board meeting.

I also hadn't received any responses to my questions that I asked at the April 2011 school board meeting.  School board policy states that "The Board is very interested in citizen viewpoints and problems." and "All questions will be responded to by an appropriate person within the week whenever possible."  Since I hadn't received a response from either meeting, I sent our school board president an email on May 17, 2011.

Mrs. Newman forwarded  my email directly to Superintendent Brown. Mrs. Newman never respond to my email. Since Ruth Ann Newman was the school board president and I had presented my questions to the board, I expected to receive a response from Mrs. Newman rather than our superintendent.

In reading Dianne Brown's response, you may sense a bit of hostility. Questioning board members about the credentials of a school district employee must not sit well with Superintendent Brown.

The teaching credentials that I questioned in my May 2011 email to Mrs. Newman where the same questions that I brought to the school board at the December 2010 school board meeting.  The person in question whom I did not name at the time due to Public Comments guidelines did not obtain a teaching certificate until January 2011. This was almost a year and a half after his original hire date.  The person in question, Mr. Jamie Critchlow, may have obtained a provisional status by MO DESE when he was hired by the Board of Education in September 2009 but he didn't obtain his Initial Certification until January 2011 after taking the Praxis tests in 2010.

What was unusual was the fact that Mr. Critchlow was promoted from a Behavior Intervention Support Teacher to the the Director of the Bridges program after working for the district for only 2 months. It was also odd in the fact that Mr. Critchlow had never taken the School Leadership Licensure Assessment (SLLA) test and he did not have a Masters degree in Education Administration according to Missouri DESE records and his online resume at LinkedIn. Taking the SLLA and earning a Masters in Education Administration is required by the State of Missouri to teach as a principal. I called Missouri DESE to confirm the information located on the MO DESE website. Apparently Fox doesn't require a person to have the same credentials that a principal must have in order to be a Director of the Bridges program.

It should be noted that the Director of the Early Childhood Center at Fox DOES have a Masters in Education Administration and has taken the SLLA. This may not have been much of a concern if Mr. Critchlow had retained the title of Director. However, he addressed letters to the school board and signed them as "Principal of Bridges". His emails were sent with the title of Bridges Principal. I felt that he was falsely advertising credentials that he did not have at the time and still doesn't have.

I called our MO DESE Area Supervisor Tim Ricker to speak with him about this issue. Dr. Ricker subsequently contacted Superintendent Brown to discuss the matter and Mr. Critchlow's information was corrected short after Dr. Ricker spoke with Superintendent Brown to more accurately reflect his title and credentials.

I also contacted MO DESE regarding Mr. Critchlow's salary amount that I inquired about at the December 2010 board meeting and in my May 2011 email to Mrs. Newman. MO DESE informed me that the salary amounts listed on their website were entered by district personnel at Fox. Therefore the data I provided in my email originated from Fox. So, if my "facts" were incorrect as Superintendent Brown stated in her response email, then the district incorrectly provided the "facts" to MO DESE.

Below is the email I originally sent to school board president Ruth Ann Newman on May 17, 2011 which is followed by Superintendent Brown's response. Superintendent Brown didn't address any of my concerns regarding Mr. Critchlow confronting me at the April 2011 school board meeting which I brought to Ruth Ann Newman's attention in my email.

My email below to Ruth Ann Newman and John Laughlin details the comments that Mr. Critchlow made to me at the April 2011 board meeting.

My email which was sent to Ruth Ann Newman was forward directly to Superintendent Brown:
From:  RuthAnn Newman
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 9:09 AM
To: Brown, Dr. Dianne
Subject: Fw: School Board Web Page Photos and Other Issues
Importance: High
Let me know that you received this.--Ruth Ann

----- Original Message -----
From: Rich Simpson
To: 'Ruth Ann Newman'
Cc: 'John Laughlin'
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:24 AM
Subject: School Board Web Page Photos and Other Issues

Ruth Ann Newman,

As you heard me mention at the last school board meeting, the school board member photos were not working. The photos have been added to the school board member’s page now. However, the images that were placed onto the page are the original digital camera size image and are 3+ megabytes in size and cause the page to load very slowly. The images are scaled down to 160x240 or so but are the original image size and should only be 50kb to 150kb in size. Could you please let the appropriate person know about this so corrections can be made as it causes the page to timeout on occasion as well?

Secondly, I have not had any responses to my questions that were presented at the December school board meeting from the school district. School board Policy 0403 states that (direct quote from current board policy which includes typos) “Questions director to the Board cannot always be answered immediately. All questions will be responded to by an appropriate person within the week wherever possible.” Apparently, the board has not read Policy 0403 in 14 years and is unaware that an appropriate person will respond back to persons making public comment.

One of my questions at the December 2010 board meeting was regarding the hiring of a person making $98,859 and his lack of credentials. I did not mention names at the December meeting but everyone on the school board and the administrators were aware of who I was speaking of. In fact, he was then appointed as the head coach of the Seckman Football team in closed session after I spoke to the board. MO DESE records show that he was paid a salary of $98,859 in 2010. However, he was not on contract for the $98,859 position for the entire 12 months of the school year according to the Seckman Middle School Student Handbook. The 2009-2010 Seckman Middle School Handbook states that he was the BIST person at the middle school and did not start that position at the beginning of the school year. So, it was sometime after the start of the school year that he was promoted to the director of day to day operations of the Bridges program. Please explain how this person was paid a 12 month contract salary amount for a Supervisor when he did not hold that position for the entire school year?

Additionally, Mr. Critchlow approached me at the April 2011 school board meeting and introduced himself to me. I had never met the man before. He told me that he did not appreciate the fact that I went and spoke to the school board regarding his hiring and that if I had any questions, that I should contact him directly. He also told me that he did not appreciate me not returning his phone call when he called my home in February 2011 and left a message on my recorder to call him and discuss some topics. I told him that I had no reason to discuss anything since I had not posted any comments since January 11, 2011. Mr. Critchlow also informed me that he did not appreciate the fact that I spoke to the reporter and told her that he had a DWI to which I told him that I did not mention any names to the reporter and that I was very careful not to. Mr. Critchlow told me I was simply trying to “stir the pot”. I told him that I had found information regarding his DWI on the internet and he told me that you cannot believe everything you read on the internet. I guess that a Press Release from Tyler Junior Community College and the news station report cannot be considered credible sources. I have no need to discuss this matter with him directly. This is a matter of the school board hiring a person that had no prior work experience in K-12 and was not qualified for the position which does not abide by the School Board Organization’s Code of Ethics in stated Policy 0333. His resume was
online for almost 2 years which did not show ANY K-12 experience nor any teaching degrees or educator education. He removed his resume from LinkedIn shortly after it was pointed out online.

At the April 2011 school board meeting, I questioned the board about the documenting of public comment in the board minutes as “Concerns within the district.” as not being an accurate recording in the board minutes as to what occurred at the meeting. This is also covered in our board policies as well for maintaining the public trust by accurately communicating openly with the citizens of the school district. Please read the section on School Board Code of Ethics as well as on documenting school board meetings. I also asked at the April 2011 school board meeting to have school board member names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses listed on the district website as the other district’s of distinction have on their websites so the citizens of the community could communicate with their school board. Organization charts for school districts show the Community at the top of the chart with the School Board below the Community and then the Superintendent below the School Board. The public is asking that the school board listen to the community rather than being a closed door or a “black hole” when questions or comments are made.

I still have not received any response on my question regarding the District Wide Compliance review as well. However, there is a law firm in Washington D.C. that is teaching seminars on Recent Initiatives and Enforcement Actions by OCR and in their presentation have documented the fact that Fox is one of two school districts in the entire country that are undergoing a compliance review for not properly providing access to appropriate services for students with medical and health conditions and impairments such as food allergies and providing Individualized Health Plans as opposed to Section 504 Plans. The reference to Fox C-6 is on page 10 of the PDF document on Slide #30. I have attached the PDF of their presentation (  Dianne and the School Board has not acknowledged to the public that the school district was notified of this compliance review on March 18, 2010. I asked the school board at the December meeting if the school board was even aware of this and Dianne asked me if I was asking about the OCR Complaint to which I told her that I was not. I was asking about the District Wide Compliance Review to which I was met with silence. Why has the public not been informed of this?

I also informed the school board that the 2011-2012 school calendar was inaccurate even though it had already been approved by the school board and posted on the district’s website and that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd semesters are totaled incorrectly as to the number of days in the calendar. We have 170 days in the calendar and not the 174 days as reflected at the bottom of the calendar pages. Also, please note that the start date back to school for 2012 is January 2. January 2, 2012 is recognized as a Federal Holiday as well as most other companies.

Thank you for your attention to these matters and your help in improving our school district.

Thank you,

Rich Simpson

Below is the email response that I received from Superintendent Dianne Brown later that morning.  I didn't send my questions to Superintendent Brown. I sent my questions to school board president Ruth Ann Newman. The school board is ultimately responsible for hiring employees within our school district as they vote to approve or disapprove the hiring of individuals that are recommended by our school superintendent.  They have a duty and agree to follow the Code of Ethics as documented in our school board policies in their hiring practices and are obligated  to "Employ only such qualified employees as are properly recommended by the Superintendent of schools."

From:  Brown, Dr. Dianne
Sent:  Tuesday, May 17, 2011 10:47 AM
To:  Ruth Ann Newman; Rich Simpson; John Laughlin
Subject:  RE: School Board Web Page Photos and Other Issues
Follow Up Flag:  Follow up
Flag Status:         Flagged
Mr. Simpson,

Thank you for your email voicing your concerns pertaining to the Fox C-6 School District. After reading your concerns, many are false and inaccurate. These will be addressed below.
Concern 1: The pictures were updated immediately after the BOE April meeting. Thank you for the information. No other community member has mentioned any issues that you seem to be experiencing with our web page. The district will look into this matter.

Concern 2: You were asked by President Cheryl Hermann at the December Board of Education meeting to contact the central office the next day and they would be happy to discuss your issues. A call was never made by you.

Concern 3: Mr. Critchlow is the Director of the At Risk Programs. He was NOT paid $98,859 for the year you are claiming. He, indeed, was a BIST teacher and paid accordingly. He then was hired by the BOE and paid for director pay for the remainder of that year, which was not your reported $98,859. Your “facts” are incorrect. Mr. Critchlow was NOT paid a twelve month contract for the year in which you are inquiring.

Concern 4: Mr. Critchlow is certified by the State of Missouri per DESE records.

Concern 5: The Board secretary contacted MSBA’s legal counsel the following day after the April meeting.  They informed her that the district was in compliance in the manner in which the BOE minutes are reported.

Concern 6: Per the district’s legal counsel. The compliance review is still ongoing. Until we receive a finding, there is nothing to report to the public. The other OCR complaints are intertwined, so we cannot discuss these without comprising the compliance review. In addition, the BOE has been informed from the initial complaint of matters relating to all OCR investigations and reviews.

Concern 7: The district calendar has been updated and corrected.

Please understand, it is my belief that the Fox C-6 School District does not receive the high accolades and continual performance awards without having an open, competent, and caring Board of Education. 
Please respond back if you would like a phone call from my office to discuss these issues and a time that would be best to make contact.

Dr. Dianne Brown