Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fox's New Anti-Bullying Policy Needs To Include Administrators, Staff and Board Members

It was reported in the March 7, 2013 Leader newspaper that Fox is developing a new Anti-Bullying Policy that will include Cyber Bullying. This policy needs to apply to school administrators, staff and board members as well.

Why should this policy apply to school administrators, staff and board members?

It takes very little effort to figure out that there are school administrators, board members or their family and friends posting comments in an online forum attacking individuals who have voiced their concerns at board meetings and who are trying to educate the public about what has been going on in our school district. However, there is one individual that has exhibited an uncontrolled rage towards the individuals standing up to the district and expressing their concerns. This individual is not debating the issues. This person is making personal attacks and using language that no educator should be posting on a public forum simply because they don't like the message. This type of behavior falls under the Missouri Code of State Regulations that will lead to the revoking of their teaching certificate if they are a director, administrator or teacher or should lead to their immediate dismissal if they are an employee of the district or a school board member.

The Missouri State Board of Education has very specific rules on educator conduct.

You can read about teacher and administrator certification in the following document on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Elementary (MO DESE) website. The document is the Missouri Professional Development Guidelines for Student Success. The document explains the Mission, Mandates and Regulations for Professional Development. The document has been moved on the DESE website. But the paragraph from the document is posted below.

You can also learn about revocation, suspension or refusal of certificate in the Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 168.071 - Personnel - Teachers and Others here:

Specifically, here is the paragraph from the MO DESE Professional Development Guidelines for Student Success that lists the reasons that the Missouri State Board of Education may refuse to renew, may suspend or revoke a teaching certificate:
The Missouri State Board of Education may refuse to issue or renew, or may suspend or revoke a certificate of license to teach upon satisfactory proof of incompetency, cruelty, immorality, drunkenness, neglect of duty, annulment of a written contract, or upon conviction of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Educator Certification Section at 573-751-0051 or visit the web at

You can also read more on this subject in the Rules of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the Missouri Secretary of State website in the following guide:

Missouri DESE's Teacher Certification Division has a Conduct and Investigation group specifically for handling misconduct of educators.

It is easy to understand that some of our administrators and board members are not happy with members in our community voicing their concerns and questioning how our school district is conducting business. They are not happy that misconduct and unethical practices have been uncovered and brought to the public's attention. In fact, our school district has been using taxpayer dollars to threaten individuals speaking out about the school district's conduct by sending out Cease and Desist letters. This type of threat is called a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Missouri has an Anti-SLAPP statute. The Missouri Revised Statute can be found here:

There is an excellent article from the May-June 2005 Journal of the Missouri Bar that explains Missouri's Anti-SLAPP law. The article explains how government entities such as our school district bring about or threaten to bring about lawsuits against individuals based upon their speech or conduct who criticize or petition the governmental body. A SLAPP lawsuit is a threat to Free Speech and your First Amendment rights. In other words, since Dianne Critchlow does not like the fact that members of the community have spoken up at school board meetings asking questions about decisions being made by our administrators and school board members, she uses taxpayer dollars to pay the district attorneys to mail out Cease and Desist letters to those individuals speaking out in a hopes of stopping them from communicating their concerns with others in the community. Should our school board be allowing this to happen? Is our school board even aware that these Cease and Desist letters were sent out since they were not CC'd on the letters?

The article regarding Missouri's Anti-SLAPP law can be found here:

Our administrators and board members portray anyone questioning the district as being negative towards the district and will lash out at those individuals or have others do it for them. A prime example of this occurred at the February BOE meeting when a record number of individuals spoke at the meeting during Public Comments in support of the district. It was as if our superintendent had written or given them outlines on what to say. Another example appeared in this week's Leader newspaper. It was a letter to the editor that was written by a district employee who said she wasn't related to anyone in the district. She then proceeded to lash out at anyone voicing concerns or opinions about the district. She needs to become more educated as to how other districts operate and what the laws are.

Asking your school district and school board members to publish board meeting information packets or provide email addresses for school board members so the public can contact them IS NOT being negative. That type of request is simply asking the district and the board to do their job and keep the public informed about what is going on in the district. Missouri Sunshine Law applies to our school district. To respond to those types of requests in this manner truly says something about how our district is being mismanaged and how poorly our community is being represented by our school board members.

I am asking that our new Anti-Bullying school board policy include language that will ensure that the Cyber Bullying rules apply to administrators, staff and board members as well.

There is no excuse for any individual to personally attack parents and patrons for asking questions at school board meetings and voicing their concerns to others in our community. Individuals can discuss and debate the issues. However, making personal attacks instead of attacking the issues is not professional or even worthy of a response. It will eventually catch up to this person making these attacks.

The individual who has been posting under several different names in the online forums and specifically naming individuals and personally attacking them has posted enough information and attacked specific individuals that it is now very easy to figure out who the individual is that has been posting these messages. These personal attacks are not reflective of a person of character or integrity. In fact, the comments that have been posted would call for the immediate dismissal of the individual from a teaching or administrative position. More than 2 years ago, I asked board member Ruth Ann Newman to look at the defamatory and derogatory comments that had been posted against me and my family just one week after I spoke at the December 2010 BOE meeting and she refused. She told me that all anyone ever posts on these forums is negative comments and that she wasn't going to read them. For more than 2 years I have been the target of Cyber Bullying by the same individual. This person has really stepped up their efforts lately due to the fact that there is a ground swell of community dissatisfaction with our school district administration and school board.

The community is watching and will be making their voices heard in the next school board election. Our school district needs a new superintendent and a new school board in order to heal and start moving in a positive direction.