Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fox C-6 March 19, 2013 Board Meeting Report

More Realistic Than Last Month
The March 19, 2013 Fox C-6 Board of Education meeting was a nice change of pace from last month's meeting. This month's meeting brought some genuine highlights of students and teachers that are making a difference in the district. A student from Fox Elementary was highlighted for her heroic action of using the Heimlich maneuver to save a fellow classmate from choking on a piece of popcorn chicken. The American Heart Association honored Rockport Elementary for its fund raising efforts this year by raising over $33,000 for the American Heart Association. It was the top fund raising school in the state of Missouri for the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart. Rockport has been raising funds for more than 20 years for the American Heart Association. Mr. Steis the assistant principal at Antonia and Ridgewood middle schools highlighted some of his students that are tutoring special needs students. These were truly meaningful stories by students and teachers in our district. It was a far cry from what went on at last month's meeting during Public Comment. Last month a new school record was set for the most number of Public Comments made at a board meeting since 2001.

In contrast, the February 2013 BOE meeting couldn't have been better scripted by our superintendent in her efforts to combat the bad press that she and the district have been receiving lately. It was as if she had handed out writing assignments to 5 individuals (some being teachers) from our school district to come up with something great to say about the district. It was very amusing listening to the over the top Public Comments last month. It was even more interesting to see how they were documented in the board meeting minutes in contrast to how my comments were documented. It speaks volumes as to how our district filters the information to keep the public from getting an honest summary of board meetings and the public's concerns. At least the minutes stated more than "Concerns within the district" which is how my Public Comments were documented in the December 2010 BOE meeting minutes. I emailed the board regarding my comments being documented as "Concerns within the district.". I received quite an unprofessional response from our superintendent informing me that our school board secretary had contacted the Missouri School Board Associations's legal counsel and that the board meeting minutes fully complied with the law. I wonder if anyone remembers what my "Concerns" were back then?

February 19, 2013 Board Meeting Minutes
Public Comments:

  • Madelyn Layman - the importance of using positive character in our schools.
  • Barb Wiley - commented on the progress of the district over the past 24 years.
  • Joe Simino - Success and growth in the Fox C-6 School District music department.
  • Cailyn Hotop - thanked the board for all of the decisions they had made that have helped to shaped her high school career.
  • Katherine Luh - expressed gratitude for the exceptional education.
  • Rich Simpson - commented on ACT data, school calendar, textbooks, public comments policy.
Last month our superintendent wanted to make sure that the community knows how great a job our school board is doing right before the election. She has been doing this for years in the local papers. She needs to keep the incumbents in place. I am sure that everyone in the community has already forgotten about the recent decision by our school board to hire the daughter in law of our school board president as the district's new Director of Food Nutrition Services for $65,000 a year. Linda Nash's daughter in law has a high school diploma and had worked at McDonald's for 17 years.

This month I felt that I needed to address my concerns regarding the Cease and Desist letters that the district has been spending taxpayer dollars to send out to citizens in our community for voicing their concerns and opinions and for asking the school district to be accountable and transparent. These letters were sent to try and silence those being critical of our district.

Public Comments
There is not a whole lot you can say in 3 minutes to get your point across to the school board and administration and inform the Public. It slows the progress of change by restricting what can be conveyed to the board and the public. That's also why there are blogs like this so more information can be conveyed to the public; and, so they can become more educated on the process and what is really happening within our school district.

Since this was the last board meeting prior to the election, I felt that it was really important to point out a systemic problem that has been occurring for more than 2 years. It is a fact that there have been individuals posting in an online forum known as Topix. I happened upon this website in October 2010 while researching information about the district to send to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (ED OCR)It is like the gossip channel for communities across the nation. Comments can be posted anonymously. This allows anyone to say anything about anyone without fear of reprisal to the real poster of the comment. In fact, I have been the subject as well as my parents of many false, defamatory and slanderous comments over the past couple of years because of my efforts to educate our school board and inform the public. 

What was my major point in telling the board about this? Despite the false accusations and claims posted on TOPIX that I was the person making posts in this online forum, I have not posted on Topix in over 2 years.

So, while some Fox C-6 administrators may be mad that people were speaking about them over the last couple of years on TOPIX, I have not been the one posting those comments. Nor did I ask anyone to post comments on that site for me.

The first slanderous comment directed at my parents and I was posted only a week after I spoke at the December 2010 school board meeting and 2 days before an article was published in the Leader newspaper about the newly appointed head football coach at Seckman High School. What a coincidence! Especially given the fact that there were only 7 people in attendance at the December 2010 board meeting besides the board members and administrators. Those in attendance included myself, a reporter from the Leader and a few students and a couple of accountants. The board meeting minutes didn't get posted for over a month and then there weren't any details of my public comments in those board minutes.

Recently, the personal attacks made against me have really picked up after I spoke at the December 2012, January 2013 and February 2013 board meetings. Those personal attacks have also been directed at others who have voiced their concerns about our school district, superintendent and school board. I believe as well as many others in our community that there are only a few people that would be so upset over critical comments made of our superintendent and school board. The language in the posts and the people that have been attacked speaks even louder as to who might be posting these defamatory and slanderous comments. Even more telling is the fact that some of the information posted would have only been known to school administrators. As I stated in my public comment at the March 2013 board meeting, remarks such as those that have been posted online, would lead to the dismissal of any educator who would make such comments. Rather than calling people names and making false accusations, they should be addressing the problems and criticisms rather than risking their careers.

Here is what I read at the March 19, 2013 school board meeting.

My March 19, 2013 Fox C-6 board meeting Public Comment

I would like to report that I have been getting a lot of positive feedback from the community and from teachers and staff and even retirees for my efforts in helping to bring accountability to our school district. It is good to see that the public is becoming more aware of how our school district leadership and school board has been conducting business compared to other school districts under our current administration. I think it is very important for the community to know that using taxpayer dollars to send out cease and desist letters to individuals in the community who voice their concerns at board meetings and in the community is unacceptable. It is also very unacceptable for individuals who are very well in the know of actions being taken by our administration prior to them even being public to be making slanderous comments about individuals in online forums anonymously. Well, actually they use a variety of different names all within minutes of each other but spreading the same message. This type of conduct will eventually lead to the dismissal of educators within our district if proven to be who everyone now believes to be the person or persons posting these messages.
I would like the school board to know that I have never made ANY defamatory or derogatory comments at school board meetings or to school board members as was misrepresented in the cease and desist letter sent to me by our school district last fall. I would also ask that our school board read up on Missouri’s Anti-SLAPP law regarding this topic. Our school board and administrators should also know that I have not posted anything on the TOPIX online forum for more than 2 years. I made a total of 18 posts between October 2010 and January 11, 2011 providing statistical data and information from Missouri DESE and school board meeting minutes and information regarding a District Wide Compliance Reviews that was being conducted by the Office of Civil Rights of our school district. That Compliance Review has been ongoing since March of 2010. I certainly have not deserved the crude and slanderous remarks that have been made against me and my parents for my advocacy efforts and efforts to hold our school district accountable. You have some very serious issues to deal with and I am glad that the community is beginning to realize that things aren’t as glowing and as positive as you would like everyone to believe.
So, in closing would like to say that I certainly hope that the upcoming election will bring a new set of faces to our school board and that our district begins to head in a new direction. It will take a concerted effort by our community to encourage a change in leadership. It will also require that our school board and school administrators conduct themselves with the Character traits of Honesty and Integrity that they so often tout. 
Thank You!

Fox C-6 School Board Election
I have been asked by quite a few people including my parents as to who I support for the upcoming Fox C-6 School Board election. I am putting my support behind Mark Jones and Steve Holloway. Mark Jones is a 1985 graduate of Fox High School and Steve Holloway is a 1990 graduate of Fox High School.

Mark Jones and Steve Holloway have information on Facebook. Mark Jones has a website as well.

Mark Jones Website
Mark Jones Facebook Page

Steve Holloway's Facebook Page

My father told me just the other day that he thought Mark Jones had a good chance at getting on the school board. He said that having 6 people running for 2 positions makes it more difficult but he still liked his chances. I was really glad to hear that from my father. My father knows a lot of people in our school district and in the community.  He and my mother are very well respected and his remarks should say a lot to the community. I hope Mark Jones and Steve Holloway gets elected to the school board. Both Mark and Steve have a background in computer science and work in the technology field. Their skills could benefit our school board and community greatly.