Friday, May 24, 2013

Fox C-6 Board President Finally Reads Email After Two and Half Months!

It only took two and a half months for our Fox C-6 School Board President Dan E. Smith to open and read an email I sent to all of the school board directors of our school district. Last night I received a  Read Receipt message at 7:10PM informing me that Dan Smith read my email message that I originally sent to all of our board directors on March 15, 2013.

We should give Mr. Smith a break because he wasn't elected to the board president position until  the April 16, 2013 school board meeting which was after the Read Receipt reply I received on April 14, 2013 from Dan Smith that read, "Your message was deleted without being read on Sunday, April 14, 2013 9:07:19 PM". Within two minutes of that email I received a message stating the same thing from Cheryl Hermann one of our other school board directors. So, perhaps if our board members don't download their email messages for 30 days, the school email server automatically deletes them. But, then it wouldn't explain how Mr. Smith was able to now download and read the email I sent to him and the other board members in March 15, 2013.

The timing of Mr. Smith reading my email message was only a day after I wrote on this blog that Dan Smith should have informed Elliott Davis in his interview Tuesday night at the May 2013 Fox C-6 board meeting that he deletes emails sent to his board email address without even reading them according to the Read Receipt messages I have received. So, our embattled superintendent or one of the board members must have read my post and informed Mr. Smith about my concerns. Speaking at school board meetings, writing letters to them or emailing them over the last 4+ years has basically resulted in documenting all of their non-responses to concerns within the district from myself and others in the community that are afraid to speak up due to fear of retaliation.

It appears that things are starting to change some now as our old school board members and our superintendent are beginning to realize that the concerns of the community and those who aren't afraid to voice those concerns are not going away. Making a policy change to grandfather in relatives of board members who are in supervisory or director positions is great but still unacceptable. Those persons such as Gee Palmer, Kelly Nash along with their relatives on the school board will still need to step down or resign from their positions. Marc McEneny should also step down from his position from gaining a position as a school resource officer only 2 months after stepping down from the school board in 2011. There are a lot of positions that need to be refilled and hopefully the turnover that needs to happen within our district will bring in some fresh faces with good morals, integrity and character.

Our school board hasn't been following their policies for years. So, having an updated nepotism policy in place doesn't mean it will be enforced unless the community is watching them. Our superintendent and the school board have been hiding information from the public for years. I am still asking that the board publish a draft copy of the board meeting minutes from board meetings on the district website within 3 days of a public meeting. This keeps the community informed as it is written within our current board policies.

The only way the public will be able to trust our school board and our administrators is when there is complete transparency and when our administrators quit making false or misleading statements. The board has done a remarkable turnaround by finally posting the Board Meeting Packets on the district website prior to school board meetings so the community can see what will be discussed and the information that will be discussed prior to the board meeting. But, it doesn't keep them completely from hiding information from the public. We still don't know whether the public portion of the information posted in the board packets online matches what the board members are receiving. It will take a long time for the district to regain the public's trust after so many years of deceit and deception. 

So, please email Mr. Dan Smith our school board president and see if he reads or responds to your emails. There is one person who has praised his actions online in the Topix forum. Sorry, but Dan wasn't instrumental in doing such a quick turnaround in writing a new policy. These policies have been out their for years in other districts. The board just didn't want this kind of language in our policies because they wouldn't be able to provide great paying jobs for their relatives who aren't qualified or deserving of the positions they were hired or promoted to.

Speaking of taking a step backwards in trusting our school district and school board, I recently learned from a Missouri Sunshine Law Request for all salaries for all certified employees of the school district from 1990 through 2013 that our Superintendent is making $246,824 for the 2012-2013 school year and not the $238,000 that was originally provided to me by the district back in August 2012. This again destroys that level of trust that you have with your school district and your school board. Plus, seeing Director's pay such as our Superintendent's husband getting 5.8% and 7.8% pay increases for the 2012 and 2013 school years respectively with our current economy demonstrates that we still have a serious problem on our hands. Our superintendent's husband salary was $101,884 for 2011, $107,813 for 2012 and $116,103 for 2013.

It's time that our community demand a new superintendent and the stepping down of several school board members at Fox C-6!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Updated Nepotism Policy Proposed at May 2013 School Board Meeting

The Fox C-6 School Board has proposed an update to Fox's school board policies regarding nepotism. The district DID NOT provide a copy of the proposed policy changes in the School Board Meeting Packet that was posted on the district website on May 16, 2013 on the Board Meeting Packet page. I have not seen the changes to the policies yet. However, Dan Smith our school board president was interviewed by Elliott Davis from Fox 2 News last night about the policy the school board is proposing. Dan Smith stated that "It will primarily prevent school board members from hiring relatives. Sometimes you have to do what the public, you know they're the ones that put us in these positions. If they're saying you know we want you to do something. We're going to try and do something."

Perhaps Dan Smith should have told Elliott Davis about the fact that he doesn't read emails from citizens in the community and simply deletes them. That has been what I have found so far since he has gotten an individual email address from the school district. As the school board president, I don't believe that Dan Smith should be simply deleting emails from citizens in the community.

Dan Smith should have also informed the community that the school board hasn't been able to update their school board policies to comply with federal law that the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights required them to update by June 2009. It seems as if our school board hasn't been able to do their job for nearly 4 years. They should answer to those questions as well.

You can see the news report on Fox 2 News under News in the You Paid For It stories. The story needs to be cleaned up for typographical errors. But, you can hear Dan Smith speaking about the policy here:

You Paid For It: Fox School District Rolls Out New Nepotism Policy

Yes, our school board and our superintendent are putting on a show to try and regain the trust of the community. The new policy on Nepotism is going to have to be as tough as the policy at Lindbergh. The new policy should require that board member's relatives will have to resign from the school district if a board member is elected to office unless they are a tenured teacher. That is how Lindbergh's policy is written. The board has abused its power for so many years because the community hasn't been watching them. Therefore they took advantage of the situation. Therefore, strict policies are going to be needed because of their abuse of power and flagrant disregard for following the policies that the district already had in place!

More to come...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fox C-6 Nepotism Problems in the News Again!

The Fox C-6 School District made it into the news again thanks to the nepotism problem that has become so well known across the state. This time Elliott Davis from Fox 2 News contacted Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones from Eureka Missouri about changing nepotism laws in our state that currently allow School Boards to hire school board member's relatives.

You can find the news story here:
You Paid For It: State May Revise Nepotism Laws

Fox C-6 School Board president Dan E. Smith sent a written statement to Elliott Davis regarding Fox School District's policy on nepotism. I downloaded the statement from the Fox 2 News website which is a Word document and posted it below.
Statement from the Fox School District on Nepotism Policy 
Dear Mr. Davis,
The Fox C-6 BOE and administration are in the process of reviewing all of the district policies and regulations, which include the policy on nepotism.  Once the policies and regulations review is complete and approved by the BOE I will be happy to discuss the matter with you further.  However we have not completed the process, so an interview at this time would not be beneficial.  The process should be completed by the end of August, and at that time I would be more than happy to sit with you and discuss any issues concerning our school district. 
Sincerely,
Dan E. Smith
President, Fox C-6 BOE

I'm surprised that Mr. Smith even responded to Elliott Davis. Since our school board members were all given individual email addresses in February of this year, Mr. Smith hasn't replied to any of my emails sent to his new email address. In fact, I received a read receipt response from Mr. Smith last month stating that my email to him was deleted without being read. Not reading emails from the citizens you were elected to represent clearly demonstrates that our school board is NOT properly representing our community. Is this type of individual you want representing you as a school board president? I recommend emailing or calling Dan Smith and asking him why he doesn't read his emails.

Dan Smith our current board president, Linda Nash our former board president and former board member Pete Nicholas are all close neighbors. Dan Smith and Pete Nicholas both voted to hire Linda Nash's daughter-in-law Kelly Nash in November 2012 as the Director of Food Service by our school board. Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and Assistant Superintendent Todd Scott defended their recommendation to hire Kelly Nash despite her lack of qualifications and education on You Paid For It and in the Leader newspaper. Kelly Nash was hired over several other candidates that had the required credentials the school district was looking for. Mr. Scott defended his recommendation by stating it was her management experience and enthusiasm that stood out and that she could earn her degree and obtain her credentials over the next two years in order to be qualified for the job. It's a fact that it takes more than 4 years to obtain your degree and become a registered dietitian. I find it interesting that everyone has been touting Kelly Nash's management experience as her primary job while the district website has Kelly Nash listed as Director of Nutrition Services. Kelly Nash is not a registered dietitian and does not have the credentials or education in this area. She has a high school diploma and 17 years experience working at McDonalds. I recommend looking up and reading the job expectations of an assistant manager at McDonalds and compare it to what she was hired to do for our school district. If Kelly Nash wasn't qualified for the job, she SHOULD NOT have been interviewed. Kelly Nash should resign from her position and her mother-in-law Linda Nash should resign from the school board. Linda Nash has violated the trust of our community and the employees of the Fox C-6 School District. Stepping out of the room during a vote or discussion doesn't give the appearance of our board behaving in an Ethical manner. It's time our school district started having annual Ethics Training and Ethics Recommitment.

Hiring former school board president Linda Nash's daughter-in-law woke up our community as to what has been going on in our school district since Dianne Critchlow was promoted to Superintendent. Our community showed it's disdain for our school board's behavior when it decided this past April that it was time for Pete Nicholas and Ruth Ann Newman to be voted out of office. Our school board needs more oversight from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO DESE). The MO DESE Area Supervisor is over our school board but basically only acts as a liason. He doesn't enforce any rules, regulations or ensuring that our school board follows its own policies. This is a serious problem in our state and needs to be resolved in order to hold the school districts in our state more accountable for their actions. The other major hire unethical hire that was made in our school district was in 2006 when Dave Palmer was Fox's board president and his wife Gee Palmer was promoted to the district head nurse position and given a 75% pay increase. There were at least 9 or 10 nurses with more years of service and experience in our school district when Gee Palmer was hired. It is time for Dave Palmer who is currently our school board vice president and his wife Gee Palmer to resign from their positions.

How Many Years Does It Take To Update Our Policies?
I'm not at all reassured by Mr. Smith's response to Elliott Davis that our school district is working on addressing the nepotism problem in our school district. Our school district and school board have been reviewing our district policies and regulations since March of 2012. According to Superintendent Dianne Critchlow at the March 2012 board meeting, the district had completely overhauled the district policies and regulations and posted them on the district website for the staff to review and provide feedback before they were adopted by the school board. Our Superintendent stated that they would be on the website until June 2012. It's now almost June 2013 and our school board and administrators still haven't completed their review of our district policies and regulations. How long does it take to accomplish this task?

It's been 4 years since the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) informed Fox C-6 that our district needed to revise their school board policies and regulations to comply with Federal Laws. If they haven't been able to accomplish that task in 4 years, how long do you think it will take to change our policies that won't allow them to hire their family members? ED OCR has given our district multiple deadlines over the past 4 years specifying exactly what needs to be corrected. Our district has yet to make those corrections. Does that give you any confidence in their abilities to review and update our policies? The most recent letter from ED OCR informed the district that they still hadn't complied was sent to the district on April 25, 2013. The latest monitoring letter from ED OCR was originally due to be sent out in August 2012 and was delayed until November 2012 and then delayed to January 2013 and then delayed to March 2013 and then delayed to on or before April 22, 2013. It appears that ED OCR has a problem with meeting deadlines as well. The latest letter states that our district now has until June of 2013 to make the changes to their policies and regulations and submit those changes to ED OCR. Obviously they won't meet that deadline if Dan Smith says they are hoping to complete their review by the end of August 2013!

Our school board members swore to make sure that our school district follows state and federal laws when they took their oath of office. If a federal agency informs our school district that our school board policies and regulations must be updated in order to comply with federal law, shouldn't our school board be asking our Superintendent why she hasn't updated our policies and regulations to comply with federal laws for the past 4 years? If our Superintendent can't do her job, then she needs to be replaced.

Catching Our Superintendent In A Lie
At the March 2012 board meeting during the public session, Dianne Critchlow stated that the district would post the DRAFT copy of the updated board policies and regulation on the district website for the staff and public to download and review. However, a week after the documents were supposed to be posted on the district website, they still weren't there. I emailed our board president and board secretary asking when the documents would be posted on the district website. Our Superintendent responded to my email. She told me that the district wouldn't be posting the DRAFT copy of the policies and regulations on the website for the public. She said that the district doesn't post new policies and regulations until after the school board approves and adopts them. However, that's not what she stated at the board meeting. After I provided her a transcript from my audio recording of the March 2012 meeting of what she said, she recanted her statements about not posting a DRAFT copy of the policies and regulations on the district website. You can now download the DRAFT copy of the policies from the district website here:

It is up to you to make sure that our school board is held accountable for their actions and their decisions. MO DESE currently absolves themselves of this duty. It is also up to you to make sure that our school board listens to the community. Please email your school board members if you want to make a positive change in our school district and let them know what you think. Our school board doesn't think there are any problems in our school district because they never get any complaints. Everyone who works for the district is afraid to speak up because they know they will be retaliated against. It is time for the community to improve our school district and its reputation by taking an active role in holding our school board members and central office administrators accountable.

You can find our school board member's individual email addresses here:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

New and Inspirational TED Talks for Parents and Educators on Education and Learning

There were several new TED (Technology Entertainment Design) Talks posted this week on TED.com on Education. Both parents and educators will learn or be reminded on ways to inspire curiosity and the desire to learn in their kids and students. TED's mission is to Spread Ideas Worth Sharing. Following TED's mission, I am always sharing with with others some of the TED talks that I watch that teach me or inspire me as well! TED has an app for both the Android and Apple iOS platforms that allow you to download TED talks onto your tablet or smart phones device when you have access to WiFi. Then you can watch or listen to the TED talks later without using up your data plan. The ROKU streaming media device has the best TED Talk application for a streaming media device that I have used for easily watching TED Talks on your TV or when giving presentations.


Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.


Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.


It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of “pseudo-teaching” to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.


Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.


Why, why, why does our education system look so similar to the way it did 50 years ago? Millions of students were failing then, as they are now -- and it’s because we’re clinging to a business model that clearly doesn’t work. Education advocate Geoffrey Canada dares the system to look at the data, think about the customers and make systematic shifts in order to help greater numbers of kids excel.


Pearl Arredondo grew up in East Los Angeles, the daughter of a high-ranking gang member who was in and out of jail. Many teachers wrote her off as having a problem with authority. Now a teacher herself, she’s creating a different kind of school and telling students her story so that they know it's okay if sometimes homework isn’t the first thing on their minds.


Until recently, many teachers only got one word of feedback a year: “satisfactory.” And with no feedback, no coaching, there’s just no way to improve. Bill Gates suggests that even great teachers can get better with smart feedback -- and lays out a program from his foundation to bring it to every classroom.


The following TED talk aren't about Education. But if you value your time and you use technology you will find it very educational if you didn't already know the things presented by David Pogue. Then if you've ever wondered what some of the chinese language symbols mean, then you will find out from watching Shaolan's talk on Learn to Read Chinese with Ease.
Tech columnist David Pogue shares 10 simple, clever tips for computer, web, smartphone and camera users. And yes, you may know a few of these already -- but there's probably at least one you don't.


ShaoLan: Learn to Read Chinese With Ease!
For foreigners, learning to speak Chinese is a hard task. But learning to read the beautiful, often complex characters of the Chinese written language may be less difficult. ShaoLan walks through a simple lesson in recognizing the ideas behind the characters and their meaning -- building from a few simple forms to more complex concepts. Call it Chineasy.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Wish List For the Fox C-6 School District!

There are a lot of things that people wish for in life and I have many. However, the majority of people probably don't wake up in the morning wishing they had a school board that responded to their concerns or that their school district had a new superintendent of schools. Those kind of wishes certainly weren't on my mind 5 years ago. As a parent, you want to be proud of the school district that you are raising your kids in. I do even more since my parents devoted their entire educational career to the Fox C-6 School District. It's where I was raised and went to school. I should feel more proud given the fact that there is a school in our district named after my father. My parents really cared and still care about our school district. My family has been connected to the school district for a very long time. I have always been a supporter as well. That is why I am so passionate about wanting our school district to always do the right thing and follow the law and its policies so it's not an embarrassment to me, my parents or our community.

I expect school administrators and principals to be honest and ethical and conduct themselves in a professional manner on a daily basis. Everyone expects school leaders to be honest. However, when they aren't honest or ethical, it reflects poorly on them as well as our community. Honesty is one of the character traits of the Character Education program taught by our school district. When our school district leaders don't set a good example, then we need new leaders. What started as a simple issue has become a Pandora's Box for our Superintendent and our School Board. They've worked hard to keep that "Box" from opening and hide their misdeeds from the public. And, they continue to do so. In fact, five school district supporters showed up at the February 2013 board meeting to read words of praise for our Superintendent and our School Board during Public Comments. Their praise was well documented in the board meeting minutes compared to how poorly my comments were documented. Our Superintendent's will do what she can to try and save her job. It's too late. The "Box"has been opened and the misdeeds cannot be undone. Corrective action needs to be taken and make sure they don't repeat their mistakes.

For the last several years, I have been asking our school district to do the right thing. If presenting facts makes our Superintendent or School Board uncomfortable or embarrassed, that means they know they haven't been doing the right thing. They could have changed their ways but that didn't happen. It's very apparent that our Superintendent doesn't want my facts made public or she wouldn't have sent me a "Cease and Desist" letter in August 2012. Her letter told me that I couldn't discuss my concerns with people in our community or school district except during Public Comments at school board meetings or they would take legal action against me. The comments I make during board meetings haven't been and won't be well documented in the board meeting minutes. Since our district hasn't responded to my requests to audio or video record board meetings, you can assume they don't plan to. Other school districts in the area video record their board meetings. But, that would mean that concerns from the community would be seen by the public. Our superintendent only wants the community to get her spin on things.

Making a school district look good is part of a school superintendent's job. However, it must be done with honesty and integrity while showing respect for those who bring valid concerns to the district. Had our school board listened to my concerns and done something about them over the last several years, I doubt that they would be in the mess that they are in today. Their only course of action from here on out is to read our school board policies and state and federal laws and start following them as they swore to do when they were elected to represent our community. Excuses are no longer being tolerated by the community as shown by the recent ousting of two long time school board members.

Now that the information is starting to flow, our school board will have to change their ways and change the leadership of our school district in order to correct the problems and damage that they have done to our school district's reputation. There will be a few people who still support our school superintendent and some members of our school board. They will continue to try and discredit me and my information. There have been a few that have attacked me personally instead of the facts I present in online forums. I have a very good idea of who some of those posters are and if my analysis is correct, our Superintendent and her husband should be out of a job. I tried numerous times over the last couple of years to bring up these personal attacks to the attention of our school board but was ignored.

Why is it important to me to bring about change in our school district? I want my children to grow up in a school district that they can be proud of. I want them to have great memories of their school years just like I have. However, our current administration and school board has really overshadowed those great memories. It's not the same district that I was proud of while I was growing up when my parents worked for the district. I'm really hoping our community can start working together towards making a positive change in our district.

Five years ago, I would have never dreamed that I would have learned so much about school law and how school districts operate. My mother was a teacher in the district as well for more than 30 years. My father was a teacher, a principal and an assistant superintendent and retired as the acting Superintendent at Fox C-6 in 1997. My father spent 42 years working for the school district after starting his career at Fox in 1955. He has thousands of stories that I've heard many times over the years about things that happened in our school district. Most of the stories I remember are funny things that kids did in his class or excuses that students gave him for doing things they shouldn't have done. Once a student told my father that he was late to school because an airplane crashed and the student stopped to help them. Once when my father was a teacher he had a snapping turtle in his classroom in a covered basket and he wrote on the board, "Do Not Look In The Basket". A few minutes later there were screams coming from his classroom after some of the girls in his class decided to look in the basket. Those are the memories that last a lifetime for dedicated educators and you remember as a kid because you heard them so often while growing up with educators.

My career isn't in the educational field. But, I do have a passion for learning and sharing what I've learned. I'm an aerospace engineer and software developer. Little did I know that I would have to write a blog about my school district in order to get accurate and factual information to our community because you won't find it in the media or get it from our school district. Our school district has a lot of great teachers that really care about the kids. The teachers are the ones that spend the most time with our children and so they should get the most credit for how well our children are educated. Parents can also make a huge difference in the success of their child's education as well. So become involved in your child's education and your school district.

In order to get my points out quickly, I thought I would create a wish list of items that I would like to see our school district work on or do in order to improve things in our district and start rebuilding our district's reputation. Most of all I want a school district that I can be proud of like I was when I was growing up in the district. I will continue to add things to this wish list as I think of them. So, check this post fairly regularly for updates.

So, here are some of the things on my wish list:

Superintendent
  • I wish we had a Superintendent who was honest and trustworthy. Hiding, falsifying or misrepresenting the facts can only be done for so long before truth starts to catch up you and it becomes public knowledge. Threatening or retaliating against those who know the truth only only hastens one's demise.
  • I wish our school board hadn't voted to nearly double our Superintendent's salary over the past 7 years. It has given our Superintendent a false sense of worth to both our school district and our community. If it was truly "all about the kids", our school board shouldn't have voted to approve such a pay increase to our Superintendent. The board should have scrutinized her claims of accomplishments more. Likewise, our Superintendent shouldn't have accepted her lavish pay increases. To put things into perspective, the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools in California is paid $288,000 per year to run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students. Our Superintendent is being paid $238,000 for the 2012-2013 school year to run 19 schools with almost 12,000 students. Even more impressive is the fact that the Fresno County Superintendent is giving back his $288,000 annual salary until the end of his 2015 contract by technically retiring early. He was rehired at a salary of $31,000 and is donating it to charity. It's easy to see why our community has lost faith in both our school board and our Superintendent.
    2012 Fox C-6 Superintendent Salary Information
    California School Superintendent Gives Back to his Community Newspaper Article
  • I wish our Superintendent would have simply told me that she didn't want the board packets on the district website because they didn't want the public to have all that information when I asked the board to post them in August 2011. That would have been a much better answer instead of telling me that the district didn't have a full time person to manage the district website. Because it turns our that after I made a Sunshine Request for the board packets, I discovered that the district has had a full time web developer for more than 7 years. It's always best to tell the truth when in a position of power. Not telling the truth destroys a person's credibility.
  • However, I will never forget the time when Jim Chellew our former school superintendent told me in December 2011 that "I'm sure they weren't intentional lies." when I told him about all of the lies that our Superintendent Dianne Brown (now Dianne Critchlow) had told me over the past several years. Mr. Chellew said he was sure that they weren't intentional lies. He explained to me that superintendents speak to so many people about so many different things that a person can't always remember what they've talked about. His explanation reminded me of Mark Twain's famous quote, "If You Always Tell The Truth. You Don't Have To Remember Anything!"
  • I wish our Superintendent's contract contained a Morality Clause as contained in many School District Superintendent contracts.
  • I wish our Superintendent would acknowledge the fact that her husband was promoted due to their relationship and not because of his credentials or experience. That would be a much more honest approach rather than denying what everyone already knows.
  • I wish our Superintendent knew that a 200 Day School Calendar would result in 26 more school days per year rather than 16 more school days per year when based on a 174 day school calendar as was documented in the board meeting minutes.
  • I wish our Superintendent knew that our school district is only 74.06 square miles and not 104 square miles as documented on the district website. I mentioned this to Dan Baker at the April 2011 school board meeting after she referred to the size of our school district in her Superintendent Message addressing snow days that year. You can find the square mileage of every school district in the state on the MO DESE website at:
    http://dese.mo.gov/divadm/govern/SchoolDistrictAreainSquareMiles.htm
  • I wish Fox had enough books for all of our students despite what our Superintendent told News Channel 5. The teachers and parents know the truth.
School Administrators
  • I wish the few school supporters making statements in the paper and in online forums who make claims that my information contains "lies and misleading statements" would point out to me what information is incorrect so I can correct it. Not being able to state what information isn't correct lessens their credibility. It's my opinion that our district has a few disgruntled administrators who don't want the public to know the truth. They've been successfully hiding the truth from our community for years and they aren't happy with the fact that their misdeeds are now becoming public. The school board has done nothing to correct the situation. The board simply ignores the problems and looks the other way.

    You won't find anyone working for the district documenting the problems and issues within our district. They know they would be retaliated against if they did. Therefore, the information needs to be reported by someone who has dealt with our district and experienced first hand how they conduct business and doesn't have anyone employed by the district that our administrators can lash out at. A handful of people with inside information continue to make personal attacks against me anonymously (they must be the disgruntled administrators) in an attempt to sway the public from the truth. Given that Perseverance is a Character Education trait taught by our school district, they should be commended for their Perseverance in attacking me and my family! Great job!!
  • I wish ALL school administrators and principals were honest. I went to school with many of the administrators or have gotten to know them over the years through my parents and so there are many of them that I can trust. However, there have been a few that have told me lies during meetings or in face to face conversations and that doesn't reflect well on them as an administrator. It makes it difficult to have respect for a person once they lie to you. Administrators are in a position of trust and lying is unacceptable for anyone in an administrative position.
  • I wish our school administrators had been honest with MO DESE when they informed them that the special education school buses depart from Lone Dell Elementary at 3PM as documented in the MO DESE reports that were forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) since that isn't true. The buses may have departed at 3PM on the day that MO DESE came and observed our school district. However, it certainly doesn't occur on a regular basis. Being dismissed 5 minutes early every day for an entire school year is the same as being absent for 2 full days of school based on a 170 day school calendar. I am guessing that our administrators and staff aren't aware of USC 18 Section 1001.
  • I wish our school administrators realized that Monday January 2 is a Federal Holiday when January 1 falls on a Sunday when planning the school calendar. Just as a reminder this will occur again in 2017!
School Board
  • I wish our School Board members would respond to questions asked at school board meetings during Public Comments. Fox's school board policy states that our school board will always try to respond within a week. I don't believe our board has answered a single question of mine since I first spoke at a school board meeting in December 2010. I've had a few questions answered by our Superintendent. Her response berated me for asking questions and she told me that "many of my concerns are false or inaccurate". My concerns must not have been false or inaccurate since the district made corrections to our school calendar and website.
  • I wish our school board members would read my emails before they deleted them. So far, our two newest board members at least opened my email according to the Read Receipt I received. It must be difficult for our board members to listen to the view points and concerns of citizens in our community if they don't read their emails.
  • I wish the school board would have responded to my concerns when our Superintendent's husband approached me at the April 2011 school board meeting and told me that if I had any questions about him that I needed to call him directly. He said I should not be asking our school board questions about him. I took his comments as a threat. Our board simply ignored my concerns. Our Superintendent did respond and told me that I incorrectly stated his salary amount even though it was the amount provided by the district to MO DESE in the CORE data. She never addressed my concerns of his confronting me at the board meeting. Of course, this all occurred prior to them getting married.
  • I wish our School Board would post the Board Packets dating back to 2008 so I could total up the amount of money our school district has spent in legal fees since they decided to take on the federal agencies. I guess they are going to make a federal case out of this.
  • I wish Dave Palmer would resign from the school board since he took advantage of the taxpayers when his wife was promoted to district head nurse in May of 2006 and was given a 75% pay increase. Previous district head nurses never had a contract longer than 9 months and they weren't paid 75% more than all of the other nurses in the school district. She made at least an extra $210,000 more than the next highest paid nurse over the past 7 years. That's just not right.
  • I wish we had a district head nurse who didn't think that her extensive training and knowledge makes her smarter than two 25+ year board certified doctors in their respective field of practice.
  • I wish our district head nurse Gee Palmer would resign from the school district as she is obviously overqualified for the job that she is doing here in our school district. With her extensive knowledge and training that makes her smarter than doctors she should find a much more rewarding job. This would free up enough money for two entry level nurses to be hired by our school district. She could possibly work as an expert witness given the vast knowledge and training she has had as a school nurse.
  • I wish I knew how board vice president Dave Palmer's son was able to get paid as a full time Teacher's Assistant or Aide while still attending college full time to get his teaching degree according to Missouri DESE records. It's odd that MO DESE CORE data had him flagged as a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) of 1.0 meaning a full time employee. This data was entered into CORE data by our school district while he was working for the district prior to obtaining his bachelor's degree which he earned in 2009. He earned his associates degree in 2007. Perhaps Mr. Palmer can explain this to the public.
  • I wish Linda Nash would resign from our school board for even allowing her daughter-in-law to apply for the job of Director of Food Service since she was not even remotely qualified for the job. Superintendent Dianne Critchlow said she didn't even realize that Kelly Nash had even applied for the job. She said she called Linda Nash to see if she was even aware that she had applied for the job after our Superintendent found out she had been recommended for the position out of all of the candidates.
  • I wish Linda Nash's Daughter-In-Law would resign from her position as Director of Food Service so someone who has the proper education, credentials and experience can fill the position. Our former Food Services Director did not know that she needed to be knowledgeable in Section 504 Law. That's why our school district and the entire state of Missouri was found Non-Compliant by the USDA Office for Civil Rights (USDA OCR) in August 2011. When USDA OCR recently visited our school district to conduct a Compliance Review our school district refused to meet with them. That's why the case has now been turned over to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Our school district made this into a Federal Case.
  • I wish I knew what the $3 Million Dollars Alcohol Prevention Education Grant Money was spent on. I do know that COMTREA received quite a bit of the money according to 2009-2010 Bill Payment public records.
School Board Meetings
  • I wish the school district would have included the list of names of the other candidates that applied for the Food Service Director position in the November 2012 Board Meeting Packet in Section 8.0 Closed Session. This high paying position was given to Linda Nash's daughter-in-law while Linda Nash was the School Board President. If you compare the November 2012 Board Meeting Packet to the February 2013 Board Meeting Packet you will find that in February the school board was informed about how many candidates applied for the Assistant Superintendent position, how many they screened them down to before interviewing the candidates and it listed the members of the interview committee. Why wasn't this information provided to the school board for the Food Service Director position?

    It certainly seems odd that there wasn't a list of names in the publicly posted version of the November 2012 Board Meeting Packet posted online on Friday May 3, 2012 for this position. The list of candidates is public record and should have been included in the board meeting packet as the district has done for other positions.

    Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and Assistant Superintendent Todd Scott informed the media that there was a committee formed and interviews were conducted for the Director of Food Service. Why was this position documented differently than the Assistant Superintendent position? Were the school board members not interested in knowing who the other potential candidates were?

    You can now download the Board Meeting Packets from the district website for the 2012-2013 school year from here to see how this was documented: Fox C-6 School Board Meeting Packets

    Here is the information that was provided to the school board in the February 2013 Board Meeting Packet for the Assistant Superintendent position:
    Backgound: There were 10 candidates for the position (6 internal and 4 external); the applicants were screened down to 4 to be interviewed. The interview committee consisted of: Luann Domek, Monica Montgomery, Carla Duffey, Todd Scott, Bill Steis, Lorenzo Rizzi, Margie Passmore, John Laughlin, and Dianne Critchlow.

    The four candidates that were interviewed were: Don Grimshaw, Liz Anderson, Tammy Cardona, Andy Arbeitman.

    Recommendation: Approve Andy Arbeitman as presented.
  • I wish Public Comments were accurately documented in our school board meeting minutes so the public would know what was really going in our school district. "Concerns within the district" or "Commented on School Calendar, School Board Policies, etc..." doesn't keep the public informed very well about what concerns our community has about our school district.
  • I wish our school board meetings were video recorded or audio recorded so the public could watch or listen to board meetings at anytime if they weren't able to make it to the meetings. Many other school districts already do this. I've been asking for this for nearly two years and my requests have fallen on deaf ears. Could it be that our Superintendent doesn't want the public to know what really happens at school board meetings?
  • I wish our school district teachers could attend school board meetings without being called into their supervisor's office and questioned as to why they attended a school board meeting.
  • I wish more than 3 minutes were allowed for speaking during Public Comments at school board meetings.
School Board Policies
  • I wish our administrators and school board members would read and correct our school board policies and regulations. There are typographical and grammatical errors that have existed in them since they were adopted in 1997.
  • I hope it doesn't take another year or more for the school board to finish reviewing the newly updated and completely overhauled board policies before they get adopted. The United Stated Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) required our school district to make corrections to certain sections of our board policies to meet federal laws. The original deadline for those changes to be submitted to ED OCR was August 2009 according to the Resolution Agreement the district signed and agreed to in May 2009. After nearly 4 years, our school district still hasn't updated those policies as required by the Resolution Agreement. ED OCR is also at fault for extending deadline after deadline for the last 4 years.
  • Our current school board policies such as Policy 311 refers to Policy and Regulation 0342 "Nepotism, Conflict of Interest and Financial Disclosure". There is no Policy or Regulation 0342 in our current set of policies and regulations. This makes reading finding those policies difficult. There is Policy and Regulation 0334 "Conflict of Interest and Financial Disclosure". Perhaps that is what they are referring to. The new Draft Policies contains a 0342 and 0342.1.
  • I wish our Board Policies still included the requirement to list the names of ALL candidates who applied for a position in the board meeting minutes where the spouse of a school board member was hired by the district. This requirement has been removed form our policies. However, it is contained in the standard policies supplied to our district by Missouri Consultants for Education.
    (http://www.moconed.com/policy.php?action=ind&polID=3&catID=1)
Schools
  • I wish that Lone Dell Elementary would delete the 2010 bus route from the school website so parents aren't confused by the information since it is not correct. Our superintendent and several assistants were made aware of this issue while we were discussing some issues after the August 2011 board meeting. Nothing was conveyed from the assistant superintendents even though it was a concern for them. This has been a frustration for many parents in our district for quite a few years. Asking our school board members to look through our district website hasn't resulted in improving the problem. Parents can find the correct Bus Schedule information on the District's Transportation page. Simply ignore the one listed on the Lone Dell page until they remove it.
  • I wish Lone Dell Elementary had an Archery Team along with other schools that don't have them in the school district that have been wanting to have one.
Legal Counsel
  • I wish I didn't have to audio record meetings. But, when meetings aren't accurately documented, you must have some sort of documentation to back you up if it's going to be your word against theirs. I've pointed this problem out to our school board in the past. But, since most of our school board members have employees working for the district, they don't want to jeopardize that income and so my concerns have been ignored. Why else would the school district attorneys be so mad and make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the USDA so they could get a copy of our transcript of our meetings with the school district. If the school district's documentation doesn't match what actually occurred in the meeting, that would pose a problem for our school district now wouldn't it. Honesty is always the best policy!
  • I wish the former school district attorney Mike Hodge hadn't told us during a 504 Meeting that we could always revoke our consent to an independent evaluation by a school district doctor if we didn't feel comfortable with a test he might want to do. Mr. Hodge gave us an example, "For example, if the school doctor wanted to hang your daughter upside down by her ankles for 3 weeks." He then explained that we could always revoke our consent to the Independent Evaluation if we didn't wish that test to be performed. He made it quite clear to us that if we DID revoke our consent, the 504 process would end here and now! I never knew that hanging children upside down by their ankles for 3 weeks was one of the tests that school district doctors performed during independent evaluations in our school district. When I asked Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker while he was under oath during our Due Process Hearing if he remembered the attorney making that comment during our meeting. Mr. Baker said he remembered the comment. He said it was "only a figure of speech".  That certainly seems like an odd "figure of speech" for someone to make about what tests school doctors may want to perform for Independent Evaluations.
U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
  • I wish the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) enforced the laws that they are charged with upholding rather than allowing extension after extension of deadlines to school districts. No wonder ED OCR has such a backlog of cases. I was told by Karl Menninger from the Kansas City ED OCR office that the running joke is that ED OCR has so many cases on appeal that it would take ED OCR 5 years to catch up if they were to process 10 case per day.
  • I wish ED OCR followed their Case Processing Manual that was referred to in their recent Dear Colleague Letter on Retaliation. By not following through with enforcement actions when a Recipient such as Fox C-6 doesn't fulfill the requirements set forth in their Resolution Agreement after more than 4 years costs both the local community taxpayer dollars in legal fees and is a waste of federal tax dollars as well.
On The Lighter Side:
  • I'm hoping more people start reading my blog so they could become better informed as to how our school district has been conducting business. They can also learn about how other school districts in our state operate compared to Fox to see where improvements can be made to our school district.
  • I wish Carol Kessler would quit signing her name on comments that were written as if they were written by our Superintendent. I don't know how many parents go around talking about the "flawed education funding formula" that our district has had to contend with.
  • I hope that our school district has movie nights using the new $278,000 Jumbotron scoreboard at Fox High School since it has "stadium seating". This would be much better than watching 16mm movies in the old Fox High gym on weekends without air conditioning.
  • I wish Fox had tennis courts like they do at Windsor, Mehlville, Oakville, Parkway and Rockwood. Fox used to have tennis courts at the Fox High campus and the Seckman campus.
  • I wish our school district always did the right thing. Then, I wouldn't have had to spend so much time researching our school district policies and federal and state laws over the past several years.
  • I wish Fox had a snow ski team since they could practice in the higher elevation areas that our Superintendent referred to in her Superintendent message in 2011. I didn't realize that there was such a large elevation change in the southern portion of our school district. I now know that it can be snowing in the higher elevation areas (950 feet) in the southern portion of our school district while it is raining in the lower elevation areas (350 feet) at the river bank in the northern end of our district. Yes. The temperature does decrease between 2.7 and 3.2 degrees for every 1000 feet of change in altitude.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dear Colleague Letter On Retaliation Law from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights

A friend and parent who has had similar issues dealing with their school district pointed out to me today that the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) recently posted a Dear Colleague Letter on their website regarding Retaliation. I find it funny that the Dear Colleague letter was posted one day before ED OCR sent out a monitoring letter to our school district that had been delayed for nearly 9 months. ED OCR will occasionally post Dear Colleague letters when they see a preponderance of problems in school districts, colleges and universities that fall under their jurisdiction. This Dear Colleague letter is significant in the fact that our school district has taken the stance over the last 5 years that they have been doing things properly according to what they have been told by the district attorneys. However, as documented in several monitoring letters sent to our school district from ED OCR, Fox C-6 HAS NOT been properly following the law. More significant is the fact that because of our efforts in asking our school district and school board to do the right thing and properly follow the law, my family and I have been the target of numerous and continued retaliatory actions by our school district. I'm sure our Superintendent will deny that. I'll just go ahead and present the facts for everyone and that way you can decide for yourself. I'm sure that that the retaliation has been done in order to keep us from pursuing the issue with the federal agencies and hoping that we would eventually give up. It's worked for our school district in the past. So why quit now?

I believe our Superintendent and school district attorneys are probably disappointed with the fact that we haven't stopped our efforts to get our school district to do the right thing. I'm sure they thought I would have given up after receiving a "Cease and Desist" letter from the latest district attorney (#3) handling the case that was sent in August 2012. Well maybe the attorneys didn't want us to stop because they get paid to make things go away. Our Superintendent has to be asking herself why I haven't given up after reading all of the defamatory and slanderous remarks made against me and my family in online forums by supporters of our superintendent and school board members. She must really be perplexed. It could have something to do with the fact that I know our school district is in the wrong and that I will make sure that the truth comes out. Eventually my efforts will help a lot of other students and parents and keep them from having to go through the same thing. I'm certainly not going to allow our Superintendent to continue to make false and misleading statements about me and what the district is doing. I will always choose to take the high road and do what is right.

So,  what are some examples of retaliation? Well, one of the first occurrences of retaliation from our school district after we filed a complaint with ED OCR was when our school Superintendent Dianne Brown (now Critchlow) refused to let me speak with our school board during closed session in 2008. I had already been speaking with then board president Wes Griffith and board secretary Debby Davis prior to the start of that night's meeting. School board members Dan Smith, Ruth Ann Newman and Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker were also there. I was talking to Wes Griffith and Debby Davis about being put onto the next month's closed session agenda after Wes Griffith had forgotten to put me on that night's agenda. I had spoken with him earlier that afternoon on the phone and he had agreed to allow me to speak to the board that night per board policy. Our board secretary had already checked the schedule for the next month's meeting and had already informed our board president and I that I could be on next month's agenda when Superintendent Dianne Brown arrived at the meeting. She immediately informed me that the school board had already discussed my issues and that they had decided that they were not going to meet with me. It sounded to me like it was our Superintendent's decision and NOT our school board's decision that they weren't going to meet with me. Why wouldn't our school board president and school board secretary know that they had already decided not to me with when they told me that they would put me on next month's agenda? How difficult is it for our Superintendent to tell the truth? Needless to say, I didn't get my chance to speak with the board at the next month's meeting after our Superintendent made her decision for the board. That is a problem for both our school board and our community.

In speaking with attorneys from the Kansas City Office for Civil Rights at a seminar a couple of years ago, they informed me that our Superintendent's actions in 2008 sounded like retaliation to them. I must point out that the KC ED OCR attorneys at the seminar weren't the same attorneys that have been handling our complaint since August of 2008. It was good to know that some ED OCR attorneys considered it retaliation when our Superintendent blocked me from speaking with our school board. That's how she has been running our district and our board has done nothing to stop it.

The retaliation has only gotten worse since then. I also know that this has happened to another parent in our district that filed a complaint with ED OCR and MO DESE. But, since it was the husband of the teacher that made the retaliatory comments towards that parent, ED OCR didn't consider it to be retaliation from the school district. I would have to say that the Kansas City ED OCR Office has been walking a thin line for quite some time on what IS or IS NOT retaliation. Hopefully the Dear Colleague letter from Washington D.C. will bring about some changes in the Kansas City ED OCR office. I know that teachers and staff in our school district are afraid to speak up and say anything for fear of retaliation from our Superintendent and Central Office Administrators. School board members Linda Nash, Cheryl Hermann and John Laughlin all acted as if they were unaware that school employees were afraid to speak up and point out problems in our district at a meeting held before the March school board meeting with two recipients of "Cease and Desist" letters from our Superintendent. Cheryl Hermann admitted at that meeting that she wasn't even aware of the fact that "Cease and Desist" letters prior to the issue being brought out in the open. It seems that our Superintendent has a problem with informing our school board members about issues in our school district.

The Cease and Desist letter that I received in August 2012 from the school district attorney informed me that if I continued to speak with people in our community and current and former teachers and administrators that the district would take legal action against me. The district didn't want me talking about the complaints that we had filed with ED OCR and other issues in our school district. I guess I should say thank you to our Superintendent for formally documenting the district's retaliation towards me and my family for filing OCR complaints against our school district. I had no intentions of filing an OCR complaint against Fox until I was told that I should file a complaint in 2008 by a MO DESE Compliance Officer. He told me that he thought our school district wasn't following the law and I should file a complaint. If ED OCR didn't think my complaint was valid it would be dismissed.

Well, our complaint with the district wasn't dismissed and our Superintendent wasn't happy with the fact that I filed a complaint. So much so that she had Vern Sullivan a former Fox C-6 School Board Member and former employee and Friends of Fox political action committee representative call my father into her office.  She told my father to tell me to stop pursuing things with the district. My father had worked for the school district for 42 years and was an assistant superintendent for more than 20 years. My father has also been the target of several online posts that have been made on the Topix online forum. Sometimes the online posts contain information that is not public information and only select administrators would or should know that information. That is why I fully believe that some of those posters are school administrators, their spouses, or their family and friends. Many of the retaliatory online comments made against me and my family directly reference complaints filed against our district with ED OCR. The general public doesn't know or care about our issues and concerns with the school district. But, our Superintendent certainly does. She only wants the public to know that Fox is a National District of Character and that our district is in the Top 10 of something in our state.

I hope our current school board and our former school board members take the time to read the Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. This Dear Colleague letter points out how the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) gets involved with cases and how federal monies can be terminated from the Department to the recipient. The letter states why the USDA Office for Civil Rights (USDA OCR) referred our USDA case to the U.S. Department of Justice. Fox C-6 refused to comply with their Final Agency Decision that was sent to the school district in August 2011. The USDA's referral to the DOJ was not made due to retaliation from the district or supporters of the district. But, now that the Department of Justice has our case, they now have the ability to investigate any retaliation that has been occurring ever since our complaints were filed with ED OCR and USDA OCR. The Dear Colleague letter which applies to both ED OCR and USDA OCR states that, "The enforcement actions available to OCR include initiating administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue financial assistance made available through the Department to the recipient; or referring the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for judicial proceedings." This language is in the ED and USDA's Case Processing Manuals. It is being spelled out in this letter as a reminder to school districts, colleges and universities due to recent cases and DOJ rulings.

ED OCR, or at least the Kansas City ED OCR Office that we have been dealing with seems to have difficulty recognizing retaliation. The KC ED OCR Office also doesn't seem to put much effort towards enforcing the law based upon the fact that they continue to issue new deadlines each time our school district fails to meet the deadlines set by ED OCR. If ED OCR were to follow their guidelines of trying to close cases out in 180 days rather than allowing things to continue for nearly 5 years, I believe that their office could save the taxpayers quite a bit of money. With attorneys at ED OCR making over $100,000 per year, it adds up when there are a couple of attorneys assigned to a case. I know there a lot of other cases that have been in "monitoring" status for many years. In fact, the attorneys working our case laughed about the fact that ED OCR has some cases that have been in monitoring for more than 10 years. It seems that their might be a management issue that needs to be addressed at ED OCR so cases can get resolved in a more timely manner.

You can find U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Dear Colleague letter online at the following URL:
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201304.html

I have also posted a copy of the letter below:



Dear Colleague Letter

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY

April 24, 2013
Dear Colleague:

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the United States Department of Education (Department) is responsible for enforcing Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age by recipients of Federal financial assistance (recipient(s)) from the Department.Although a significant portion of the complaints filed with OCR in recent years have included retaliation claims, OCR has never before issued public guidance on this important subject. The purpose of this letter is to remind school districts, postsecondary institutions, and other recipients that retaliation is also a violation of Federal law.2 This letter seeks to clarify the basic principles of retaliation law and to describe OCR’s methods of enforcement.

The ability of individuals to oppose discriminatory practices, and to participate in OCR investigations and other proceedings, is critical to ensuring equal educational opportunity in accordance with Federal civil rights laws. Discriminatory practices are often only raised and remedied when students, parents, teachers, coaches, and others can report such practices to school administrators without the fear of retaliation. Individuals should be commended when they raise concerns about compliance with the Federal civil rights laws, not punished for doing so.

The Federal civil rights laws make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws.3 If, for example, an individual brings concerns about possible civil rights problems to a school’s attention, it is unlawful for the school to retaliate against that individual for doing so. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual because he or she made a complaint, testified, or participated in any manner in an OCR investigation or proceeding. Thus, once a student, parent, teacher, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally to a school about a potential civil rights violation or participates in an OCR investigation or proceeding, the recipient is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual’s complaint or participation. OCR will continue to vigorously enforce this prohibition against retaliation.

If OCR finds that a recipient retaliated in violation of the civil rights laws, OCR will seek the recipient’s voluntary commitments through a resolution agreement to take specific measures to remedy the identified noncompliance.4 Such a resolution agreement must be designed both to ensure that the individual who was retaliated against receives redress and to ensure that the recipient complies with the prohibition against retaliation in the future. OCR will determine which remedies, including monetary relief, are appropriate based on the facts presented in each specific case.

Steps OCR could require a recipient to take to ensure compliance in the future include, but are not limited to:
  • training for employees about the prohibition against retaliation and ways to avoid engaging in retaliation;
  • adopting a communications strategy for ensuring that information concerning retaliation is continually being conveyed to employees, which may include incorporating the prohibition against retaliation into relevant policies and procedures; and
  • implementing a public outreach strategy to reassure the public that the recipient is committed to complying with the prohibition against retaliation.
If OCR finds that a recipient engaged in retaliation and the recipient refuses to voluntarily resolve the identified area(s) of noncompliance or fails to live up to its commitments in a resolution agreement, OCR will take appropriate enforcement action. The enforcement actions available to OCR include initiating administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue financial assistance made available through the Department to the recipient; or referring the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for judicial proceedings.5

OCR is available to provide technical assistance to entities that request assistance in complying with the prohibition against retaliation or any other aspect of the civil rights laws OCR enforces. Please visit http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OCR/contactus.cfm to contact the OCR regional office that serves your state or territory.

Thank you for your help in ensuring that America’s educational institutions are free from retaliation so that concerns about equal educational opportunity can be openly raised and addressed.


                                    Sincerely,

                                      /s/

                                    Seth M. Galanter
                                    Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights



1 OCR enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (Age Act), and the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act (Boy Scouts Act). OCR also shares enforcement responsibilities with the Department of Justice for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in state and local government services, programs and activities, regardless of whether they receive Federal financial assistance.

2 The Federal courts have repeatedly affirmed that retaliation is a violation of the Federal civil rights laws enforced by OCR. See, e.g.Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167 (2005); Peters v. Jenney, 327 F.3d 307, 320-21 (4th Cir. 2003); Weeks v. Harden Mfg. Corp., 291 F.3d 1307, 1311 (11th Cir. 2002).

3 See 34 C.F.R. § 100.7(e) (Title VI); 34 C.F.R. § 106.71 (Title IX) (incorporating 34 C.F.R. §100.7(e) by reference); 34 C.F.R. § 104.61 (Section 504) (incorporating 34 C.F.R. §100.7(e) by reference); and 34 C.F.R. §108.9 (Boy Scouts Act) (incorporating 34 C.F.R. §100.7(e) by reference). Title II and the Age Act have similar regulatory language. See 28 C.F.R. § 35.134 (Title II); and 34 C.F.R. § 110.34 (Age Act).

4 See OCR’s Case Processing Manual for more information about resolution agreements, available at http://www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/ocrcpm.html.

5 See 34 C.F.R. § 100.8.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

U.S. Department of Education Issues Another Monitoring Letter to Fox C-6

Is it simply incompetence? Does our school board not do proper oversight? Is our superintendent not keeping our school board informed of Federal investigations and simply using taxpayer dollars to fend off federal agencies? Is it a matter of the federal agencies not properly enforcing the laws? Or is it all of the above?

The United States Department of Educations's Office for Civil Rights issued another "monitoring" letter on April 25, 2013 to the Fox C-6 School District in reference to the Resolution Agreement the school district signed with the U.S. Department of Education (ED OCR) in May 2009.  The letter was supposed to issued in November 2012. Then it was supposed to be issued in January 2013. Then it was supposed to issued by March 2013. So, even Kansas City ED OCR can't seem to get their act together as well. However, after dealing with them for years and observing their patterns of practice and lack of response, it seems that this is being done to push it off to the end of the school year so another school year has gone by and nothing gets done.

The monitoring letter to our school district states that the District still hasn't fully complied with the May 2009 Resolution Agreement. The district has now been given another new deadline of June 25, 2013 to comply with the agreement. ED OCR has been sending monitoring letters to our school district since December 8, 2009 after the district didn't meet the August 2009 deadlines that were set in the May 2009 Resolution Agreement. So, the process continues. Some of the items listed in the agreement is to update their 504 Procedural Manuals as well as update school board Policies and Regulations which currently do not meet federal non-discrimination laws and Civil Rights Acts. So, far the district has refused to make these changes and school district attorneys have been fighting ED OCR. As a National District of Character, one would think that our school district would properly follow federal laws even more so when a federal agency has specifically reviewed school documentation and pointed out the pages, paragraphs in our Policies and Regulation that must be revised in order to meet federal laws.

One would also think that it would be important to our school board members that our school district follows federal laws as well. Making sure that our district follows the law is part of what our school board members swore to do when they took their oath of office. So, have our school board members become complacent? Or have they not been kept informed by our school superintendent. It is our school superintendent's job to keep our school board informed. If she is not keeping them informed and the district is spending tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars because she is not keeping them informed, that would be a violation of her contract and she should be dismissed. I would certainly like to see an explanation from our school board as to why after 4 years our school district has not been able to fulfill an agreement signed by our district with ED OCR in May of 2009.

I spoke to Dan Kroupa about this on election day before the ballots were counted and before he took office. So, Dan has been fairly well informed about what has been happening with the federal agencies and that they have been monitoring and investigating our school district for nearly 5 years. He even asked me why our district just doesn't comply. I told him that's a very good question.

Our superintendent DOES NOT want the public to know about the investigations that have been going on in our school district. She used taxpayer dollars to have a school district attorney send me a letter a couple of years ago to inform me that the district may be under investigation but that there is nothing to tell the public until ED OCR completes their investigation. The investigation the district attorney was referring to in that letter is a completely different one. It is a District Wide Compliance Review being done by ED OCR. It was opened in March of 2010. You can even find references to it by other attorneys across the country using Google. Attorneys in other states refer to it as things to watch out for when they are teaching their school districts about the law.

Falling Through The Cracks
You might wonder why it takes ED OCR so long to investigate. Well, for one reason, the ED OCR Kansas City office has quite a reputation for allowing things to "fall through the cracks" as Mr. Dan E. Smith our current school board president liked to say in his campaign bid for State Representative.

I have been in touch with parents across our state and in other states that are served by the Kansas CIty Office for Civil Rights. Many of them have had the same experience that we have had with this office. In fact, their office has had cases open for as long as 10 years and laughed about that during a phone conference with them. The school district attorneys are very well versed in how the cases are handled in the Kansas City OCR office. This is all explained in training seminars on Education Law teaching school administrators and school board members. There are ways to get around the system. It's just a matter of waiting them out. The federal agencies will continue to extend deadline after deadline despite ED OCR's Case Processing Manual stating that after refusing to comply they can reopen an investigation and move forward with enforcement. We have been in contact with the Washington D.C. OCR office as well. In fact, our U.S. Senators have as well. Our senators are very well aware of the issues with ED OCR and the fact that there is a lack of enforcement or for that matter a lack of response from the agency as a whole. It sounds rather familiar to the lack of communication from our school board. You can write our school board but chances are slim to none that you will get a response. It seems that this is the standard way of doing business in the Department of Education. In fact, the State of Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education MO DESE passes the buck back to the local school district. This way nothing gets done and the taxpayers keep paying the price.

Mistakes in 504 Procedures Manuals and School Board Policies and Regulations
The recent monitoring letter from ED OCR identifies many errors in our school board 504 Procedures Manual as far as the language not properly following the ADA and ADAAA. These documents were supposed to be corrected and supplied to ED OCR back in August 2009. So, why has it taken our school district so long to do this simple task? Why has ED OCR extended deadline after deadline year after year as our district has failed to do so? Why hasn't our school board stepped in and done their job to make sure that our school district complies with the law and the request of federal agencies? Where is the breakdown of communications between our school board and our superintendent? What about holding the people accountable who's responsibility it is to update these documents?

ED OCR has specifically pointed out that contact persons are incorrectly or are not even identified in our school board Policies and Regulations. ED OCR has also identified language that applies to employees of the school district as well in regards to discrimination and civil rights that is missing. Our school superintendent likes to brag that our district is a "School of Excellence". This may be true when it comes to many of the great teachers we have in our district. However, our upper management team seems to be sorely lacking in this area. I pointed out issues with our school board policies to former board member Ruth Ann Newman in February 2011 and she was quite defensive for my doing so. If the board is unable to recognize or even admit that there is a problem, then our community has a problem and board members need to step down so others in our community can do the job that they are supposed to be doing. I read online posts made be people defending our school superintendent and school board members and telling what a wonderful job they are doing. In my opinion, those people posting must be family members or they are our superintendents and school board members themselves. The community is well aware of the problems that have been occurring within our district. However, most of them are afraid to say anything for fear of retaliation. Hopefully, now that the Department of Justice has become involved thanks to the USDA with whom our school district recently refused to meet with for a Compliance Review, things will begin to change.

Retaliation and Defamation By The District
Personally, I don't take these matters lightly given the fact that that my family and I have put up with a considerable amount of retaliation, libel, defamatory comments and attacks made on my character over the past several years. I decided to stand up for what is right and bring this to the attention of our community and to our school board after I learned that our district wasn't following the law in my own case. If they weren't following the law in that matter, there was a good chance that there weren't following the law in other matters in our district. And, I was correct! And because I have learned the law and have been voicing my concerns, our Superintendent has worked hard to discredit me. She continues to tell people that my information is "false or inaccurate" or that much of what I write on my blog is false. Who are you going to believe? Who knows, maybe TROOP will make some more defamatory and slanderous and untrue statements about me over on Topix again. Just to be clear again for everyone, I don't post on Topix and haven't since January of 2011. But, you can bet that our Superintendent's supporters have. I found it very interesting how TROOP seemed to disappear off of Topix after several posters made comments that they thought TROOP was our Superintendent's husband. Wouldn't that certainly be a shock to our community considering the vulgarity of TROOP's language. TROOP certainly had a lot of inside information that would only have been known to a few individuals in our district.

I certainly never thought that I would spend so much time learning about education and civil rights law as an engineer. But, when your reputation is attacked by school district personnel and school district attorneys, you tend to want to set the record straight. Because there is so much to learn, our school district has been able to get away with things for years. That and the fact that our Superintendent has been able to keep their wrong doings out of the public eye and out of the media. Not only has our school district's actions affected me and my family in a negative way. But, they have affected many in our community negatively due to their abuse of power and limitless amounts of money that they can spend on attorneys in an attempt to quite those who speak out. Many in our community can't take on our district because they work for the district and others simply don't want the grief. Hopefully, this will all change in the near future after we have a change in leadership and a change in school board members. One can definitely hope!

Our District administrators and district attorneys like to throw out a lot of statements that misrepresent the law hoping that you don't know the law. Some of it is the simple fact that our own superintendent and assistant superintendent as well as principals and staff don't know the law or have been incorrectly taught the law. I would certainly expect that our Superintendent Dianne Critchlow who makes nearly $250,000 a year and Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker who makes nearly $150,000 a year and do this as their full time job would know the law. Dianne Critchlow has been working in education for more than 20 years and Dan Baker has been working in education for 18 years. I have to ask. How long does it take to learn the laws that they are supposed to follow? Dan Baker is responsible for knowing 504 Law. That is part of his job. Our Superintendent is responsible as well. So, you have to add to their salaries the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars that our district is spending in legal fees to correct the problems. It's definitely costly to the taxpayer when laws aren't followed due to lack of knowledge.

How Many Years Before ED OCR Does Their Job?
So, how many more years will this continue before our school district fulfills the requirements they agreed to in the May 2009 Resolution Agreement with ED OCR? How many more years will our school district be undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review by ED OCR? How many more thousands of dollars will it cost the taxpayer? These are questions you should start asking our school board members because they approve the Bill Payments each month when those checks are sent to the school district law firm. At least you can now find out for yourself how much our school district is spending in legal fees because the Bill Payments are now being included in the Board Packets on the district website. These are supposed to be the same Board Packets that are sent out each month to our school board members for review prior to school board meetings. Our school district's law firm is Mickes Goldman O'Toole. Or, you can look for payments made for Legal Services in the description.

How Much More Money Will Our District Waste?
In August and September of 2012 combined, our school district doled out more than $103,000 to the school district law firm. Of course, the school district was having meetings with the USDA OCR office back then dealing with their other Non-Compliance issue. I will have to make a Sunshine Law Request to obtain copies of the invoices from the school district law firm in order to find out exactly what those legal expenses were for. I'm sure that almost everyone in our community would rather see that money being spent on books for our kids rather than paying school district attorneys. I'm sure that statement may have our Superintendent spending more money on another "Cease and Desist" letter sent to defame my character. If any of the facts above are incorrect regarding ED OCR and the USDA OCR, please let me know so I can correct them. The documenting of their misdeeds continues. The best thing is that we now have the Department of Justice working on the case thanks to the USDA OCR. You can be assured that they are being provided with complete and accurate information.

I think our school board needs to start looking for a new Superintendent and a new Assistant Superintendent. What do you think?