Saturday, June 29, 2013

How I Concluded Board President Dan Smith DID NOT Read My Email!

At the June 2013 Fox C-6 school board meeting, Superintendent Dianne Critchlow responded to my Public Comments. She rudely interrupted me when I tried to respond. She wanted to get the last word in. And, since I was given my 3 minutes to talk, it was now her turn despite the fact that I was addressing our school board and not her. Dianne wasn't going to be voting on the proposed nepotism policy. The school board are the ones that vote. She is ONLY the Superintendent. Our school board is there to oversee that she does her job and follows the law. She is employed by our school board. However, you might think otherwise based on how things have been run for the last several years in our school district.

Superintendent Critchlow was intent on discrediting my information and damaging my reputation. She basically made 3 statements after I spoke and each of them were either False or misleading. Would making those kind of statements in a Public Forum such as a school board meeting be considered slander? The school board did nothing to stop her nor did they apologize as a whole for her actions. I will address that issue with the board in the near future.

The point of the matter is that Superintendent Critchlow believes she is above the law and can do what she wants. She needs to learn how to conduct herself in a professional manner. She was far from professional at the June board meeting.

In this post, I want to address her comments towards me regarding board members deleting my emails. She clearly meant to imply that I was lying. Therefore, I think it's important that I explain to the community how I concluded that my emails were being deleted without being read.

Here is what Superintendent Critchlow so arrogantly said to me about the emails at the June 2013 board meeting:
 "And, to say that the school board doesn't read your email. You don't know that. You can't just throw things out that are untrue."

So, I'm going to run through the emails I received and the blog posts I made in regards to this topic. 

On April 18, 2013 I received the following email from then Board Vice President Dan Smith:

From:  Smith, Dan - Board Vice President <>
Subject:  Not read: RE: Fox C-6 Board Meeting Information Packets on District Website
Date:  April 18, 2013 9:08:01 PM CDT
To:  Rich Simpson

Your message was deleted without being read on Thursday, April 18, 2013 9:08:01 PM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).

So, from the email response I received above from Dan Smith, I concluded that Mr. Smith had deleted my email without reading it. That's what the email told me. It clearly states, "Your message was deleted without being read on Thursday, April 18, 2013 9:08:01 PM."

On Wednesday May 22, 2013, the day after the announcement that the school board met and proposed making changes to the school district's nepotism policy, I made the following blog post:

Updated Nepotism Policy Proposed
at May 2013 School Board Meeting

In this post, I made the following statement:
"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."

What happened next day was pretty funny!

On Thursday May 23, 2013, the very next day after I wrote on my blog about Fox C-6 Board President Dan Smith deleting and not reading my emails, I received the following email message from Dan Smith:

From:  Smith, Dan - Board Vice President <>
Subject:  Read: RE: Fox C-6 Board Meeting Information Packets on District Website
Date:  May 23, 2013 7:10:55 PM CDT
To:  Rich Simpson

Your message was read on Thursday, May 23, 2013 7:10:55 PM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).

You will notice that this is the VERY SAME email that was previously indicated to me via a read receipt that had been deleted and not read. All of a sudden, the day after I posted on my blog, I received an email message from Dan Smith stating "Your message was read on Thursday, May 23, 2013 7:10:55 PM". How funny is that?

So, is it reasonable to assume that someone on the Fox C-6 School Board or Fox C-6 School Administrators are reading my blog?

Or, was it just a coincidence that Dan Smith just happened to open my email that I was previously informed was Deleted but Not Read in a Read Receipt message the day after I had written about it on my blog?  Probably not!

Since I received a new Read Receipt on May 23, 2013 stating that "Your message was read in Thursday, May 23, 2013 7:10:55PM (GMT-06:00) Central Time", I decided to write about that on my blog as well:

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

That's how I concluded that our Board President Dan Smith had DELETED my email but DIDN'T READ IT!!

To Superintendent Critchlow, I didn't just "throw things out that aren't true". I thoroughly document things to back up what I state at board meetings and on my blog. If you send email after email to your school board members and don't receive responses, would you think that your board is representing you as a taxpaying citizen in the community?

I can assure you that I am not the only one that has written our school board and never received a response. That is why I encourage people to write to our school board. See if you get a response. You will probably get a response if you shower our Superintendent and School Board members with praise.

I have received a few responses from former school board member Ruth Ann Newman. However, that was a rare circumstance that I received a response. Most responses came from Superintendent Dianne Critchlow with her usual arrogant and snarky response!

Should the community care if school board members don't read their emails?

Or, is it OK if they just delete them or ignore them?

I know some of our board members read my email messages. I have gotten read receipts from them (namely our new board member Dan Kroupa, Steve Holloway and John Laughlin).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Super Dave BlogTalk Radio Show - His Thoughts on the Recent Fox C-6 School Board Meeting

David Day also known as "Super Dave" on BlogTalk Radio talked about the June 25, 2013 Fox C-6 School Board meeting on his morning show on Wednesday June 26. Super Dave says he is good friends with Fox C-6 Board President Dan Smith. Dave was pretty upset about several things that happened at the board meeting and said he's going to forward his thoughts onto his friend board president Dan Smith.

Dave discussed my efforts to make public comments at the board meeting starting at 25:45 into his radio show. You can download his radio show from the web as an MP3 file. Below is the link to his Wednesday June 26, 2013 Radio Show. I also recommend listening to his show from Tuesday June 25, 2013 when he discussed the article in the Post Dispatch about the new anti-nepotism school board policy.

Dave's analysis of the board meeting was spot on. Below I have pointed out a couple of points in his talk show to listen to.

@ 28:35
Super Dave discusses the amount of money that superintendent Dianne Critchlow is making as our superintendent. He wants to know why Superintendent Critchlow is making so much money. He said all he hears is "that's the going rate".

@ 32:55
Super Dave talks about Superintendent Critchlow's reaction to my Public Comments. He talks about the comments she directed towards me after I spoke. Dave said he wished he had taken video of the arrogant looks on Superintendent Critchlow's face as I was speaking. It's OK for her to speak but then it wasn't OK for me to respond. He said it was really disappointing to watch a supposedly mature women make ridiculous comments towards me after I spoke and make ridiculous looks while I was speaking. I didn't notice Dianne making faces as I was reading my comments and addressing the board. So, I'm glad that Super Dave picked up on that and was able to give his own take on how our Superintendent handles herself at school board meetings. Dianne did the same thing to Michelle Tyler after she spoke at a school board meeting.

Dave said that Dianne is in a position of authority and that her position of authority should be a little more mature than what she displayed at the meeting. He said she needs to control her emotional outbursts.

Since we as taxpaying citizens only have 3 minutes to present our concerns to the board (they cut you off right at 3 minutes), you have to read quickly in order to get in as much information as possible in the 3 minutes allotted. Emailing our school board has been a waste of time since they don't acknowledge your emails. Dan Smith, Linda Nash and Cheryl Hermann have deleted my emails without even reading them. But, then they could be doing so since Superintendent Critchlow informed the board in an email in August 2011 that the board couldn't discuss issues with me due to pending litigation. There's no litigation between myself and the school district. However, the school district has refused to comply with the USDA's Final Agency Decision. So, Dianne must be referring to the fact that the school district attorney threatened to take the USDA to court because they refused to comply with the USDA's Final Agency Decision. I think it's great that our school district plans to spend taxpayer dollars to fight federal agencies.

@ 50:00
Dave said he thinks he should have Dan Smith come on his show. Then he said he would love to have Critchlow come on his show. Super Dave said he would like to have a discussion with Superintendent Critchlow and that she could try her arrogance with him. Dave said he's not hear to argue. He's just here to expose who these people are.

I highly recommend you give a listen Super Dave's Radio Talk show about what happened at the school board meeting. I think he did a great job covering the school board meeting. Hopefully Dave forwards his thoughts to his friend Dan Smith so Mr. Smith can see what a "friend" of his thinks of our school board and superintendent.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 25, 2013 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting Public Comment and Superintendent's Reaction

I spoke at the June 25, 2013 Fox C-6 School Board meeting last night during Public Comments regarding the new anti-nepotism policy and the grandfather clause. I also pointed out to our school board the fact that it has now been more than 4 years now since the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) asked our school district to update their board policies to meet Federal law. They still haven't complied. I also pointed out the fact that our school district still hasn't complied with an August 2011 USDA Final Agency Decision as well that also caused MO DESE to be non-compliant as well.

Superintendent Dianne Critchlow reacted swiftly after I finished addressing the school board with my Public Comments. She doesn't want the public to know what's been going on in our school district and will take every opportunity to TRY and discredit me and my information. Her comments at the public school board meeting would constitute slander because they were false and meant to discredit me and attack my character. My statements are backed up by documents from Federal agencies.

Superintendent Critchlow, please post on the district website the Regulations, Guidelines or Laws that state that our district cannot discuss the findings or complaints that can easily be obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests from the federal agencies. The Post Dispatch obtained documents from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights back in 2010 to find out that there was a complaint filed against the Fox C-6 School District. The Post Dispatch ignored other complaints that were filed against other districts in our state. The newspaper then used that information to contact Missouri DESE to learn more about the complaint. That's when MO DESE provided emails to the Post Dispatch between Fox C-6 School District and MO DESE which personally identified me and my family. The Post Dispatch used that information to contact us and do a story. Those emails were released by Missouri DESE attorney Chris Morrow. It seems that privacy is only good when it's for the school district but not the public.

Superintendent Critchlow doesn't want the public to know that our district has been undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review since March of 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) and that there is a 2011 USDA OCR Final Agency Decision that found both Fox and MO DESE non-compliant with Federal Law and USDA Regulations and Guidelines. For Critchlow publicly state that the district is in full compliance IS FALSE. She counts on the public believing her. But, since it's not true, what does that say about her credibility?

Superintendent Critchlow wasn't happy about the fact that I brought up these points in public. Perhaps she believes that the district attorneys will make these findings and rulings go away as they vigorously battle the federal agencies with our taxpayer dollars. Perhaps she hasn't read the "long letter" from the USDA or the recent monitoring letter from ED OCR issued on April 25, 2013 that states that the district still had not fulfilled the requirements of the May 2009 Resolution Agreement signed by the district. Spending two or three hundred thousand in legal fees to fight the federal government doesn't seem like a very productive or fiscally responsible thing for our school district and school board to do, does it?

Here's what Superintendent Dianne Critchlow said after my Public Comment:
"Mr. Simpson, I would like to address, you know and we know that we cannot discuss. We are in compliance with every complaint to date and one is in litigation and we cannot discuss it. Moreover, Mr. Simpson, I find that your comments on the nepotism policy quite interesting since your father was an assistant "sup" and you were hired by him to work in technology as your mother worked here and your sister and now since they don't work here you want the policy changed? I find that interesting. And, to say that the school board doesn't read their emails. You don't know that. You can't just throw out things that are untrue."
Superintendent Critchlow cut me off as I tried to respond to her comments above. She said "Thank you" 3 times cutting me off as I tried to speak. The audience recognized what she did as you could hear their reactions. Dianne seems to be lacking people skills. She has a problem with the truth and she has a problem with telling the truth. She wants to silence the public to save her job. In doing so, she is alienating the community even further by her behavior.

I commented that my emails to some board members were deleted without being read. Superintendent Critchlow said that I "don't know that". Well, I do know for fact that I received automatic Read Receipt responses stating that my emails were DELETED and NOT READ. I have documented this in previous posts. I received Read Receipt responses from Dan Smith, Cheryl Herman, Linda Nash and Pete Nicholas all stating that my emails were DELETED but NOT Read. I sent my emails to the school board flagged with Read Receipt to ensure that they received them. Of course they could have ignored sending me back a Read Receipt. I DO KNOW that I received email responses telling me that my messages were deleted and not read. I DO NOT "throw out things that are untrue." Please go back and read my prior posts about emails getting deleted.

I also "find it interesting" that after I was interviewed by Elliott Davis on the You Paid For It Segment regarding nepotism in the Fox C-6 school district that someone posted comments on the Topix forum attacking me for the very same thing that Dianne attacked me for at the board meeting. I wonder if Dianne or her husband were the ones that posted those comments on Topix? Dianne was very fast to react to my comments at the school board meeting last night with the same comments?

I'd like to reiterate to our school board and our administrators that I haven't posted on Topix nor have I asked anyone to post on Topix since my last post on January 11, 2011. I've only made 18 posts in total and none of them were derogatory or defamatory in nature. I only posted facts about the district to which our superintendent and her husband did not like. Someone had my last post from January 11, 2011 removed from Topix. It was a link to Dianne Critchlow's husband's LinkedIn profile where he had posted his resume. His resume didn't list any teaching experience or degrees in education. That may be why he deleted his LinkedIn profile shortly after that post was made and why my post on Topix was removed as well.

Dianne is the only one in our district that would want to go after me and my family because her job is on the line and so is her credibility and reputation with the public. Yes, I did some work for the district between 1990 and 1999. I did a lot of work for the district for free for quite a while because my father was always having people from the district call me for help because I know a lot about computers and software. I'm a software engineer and used to be an independent computer consultant. When I did start charging the school district for my services I discounted my rates. Plus, I put very little markup on any equipment we sold to the district. I spent thousands of hours writing an attendance, scheduling and student database software package that was used in most of the schools in the district in the early 1990's prior to the district spending over $200,000 on new software from another vendor and an AS/400 computer system to run it.

You can compare what I charged the district for my student attendance software to what the district recently spent on the new Tyler software system the district purchased. The Tyler Systems software cost roughly $600,000 according to district documents and has a yearly maintenance fee of nearly $200,000 per year. In contrast, I charged each school $350 for the software I wrote for the district which totaled less than $3500. I definitely wasn't trying to reap a profit with the thousands of hours I put into writing and enhancing my software over the years. I wrote it to help out the school district I grew up in. I also employed several Fox grads at my company while we were helping the district in the early 1990's. And, my company wasn't the only computer company working at the school district at the time. So, Dianne's comments exude her desperation in trying to hide the truth.

I sat next to David Day at the school board meeting last night. I met him at the December school board meeting and didn't realize that he had a blog talk radio show. His show can be found BlogTalk Radio. It's called the Super Dave Show. I went to his website last night and found that he did a piece on Fox C-6 yesterday morning regarding the vote on the new policy. He mentioned the recent Post Dispatch article that was published yesterday as well regarding the vote on the anti-nepotism policy. He did a great job of discussing the issues at Fox. He pointed out that he didn't agree with his friend Dan Smith as to why he voted for Linda Nash's daughter in law for the Food Nutrition Director position. Dan Smith told Dave that he voted for her in order to show a unified board. You can find his comments starting around 14 minutes into his show. Here is a link to his radio show discussing the nepotism issue:

Super Dave BlogTalk Radio Show on Fox C-6 Nepotism (14:00)

Super Dave BlogTalk Radio Show Discussing Board Meeting

My Public Comments at the June 25, 2013 Board Meeting
Below is what I read at the June 25, 2013 school board meeting. I ran out of time (3 minutes) and was unable to read the last paragraph asking or the board packets to be updated with the Administrator's Salary Schedule and the 2013-2014 Budget. It's too bad that our school board limits Public Comments to 3 minutes despite the fact that the district reserves 30 minutes at each meeting for Public Comments and there is usually only myself or a couple of other people that speak at the board meetings.
"Thank you for allowing me to address my concerns and those of our community. 
I believe that the new nepotism policy drafted by our administration is a step in the right direction. However,  it still has some major flaws. There are individuals working for the district in Director or Supervisor positions who are related to school board members and administrators who would not have been allowed to be hired under the proposed changes to the district's nepotism policy.  For the best interest of our community, I recommend and ask that the individuals who are currently working for the district in those positions step down from their Director or Supervisory positions.  This would allow for more qualified individuals to be hired and that that are not related to board members or administrators. This would go a long way towards rebuilding the trust of the community. Grandfathering them in to their current positions is wrong. I speak for many people in our community who cannot speak for fear of retaliation from our district. 
I am also recommending that the related board members should resign from their positions on the board as well. You have violated the trust of the community. You will never regain the trust of the community now that the public is aware of what has been going on in our school district. Your resignations would allow for the school district start moving forward. 
Our district has been working on updating its board policies and regulations for more than a year now. In March of 2012, it was stated that the updated Policies and Regulations would be available on the district website until June 2012. The Policies and Regulations are still on the website and have not been reviewed and adopted. 
What is even more concerning is the fact that our school district has failed to comply with the Resolution Agreement that our district entered into with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) in May of 2009. It has now been more than 4 years since Fox agreed to update its board policies to comply with federal law as outlined in that Agreement. Why has the district been unable to make these changes? 
Is our school board even aware that our district has still not fully complied with this Agreement? 
ED OCR has issued at least 4 monitoring letters to the District since December of 2009 informing the district that it still has NOT met the requirements of the Agreement. As school board members you took an oath to ensure that our school district follows the law and policies of our district. 
When will you as school board members ensure that our district is following the law?
Along the same lines, there was an August 2011 Final Agency Decision issued by the USDA OCR Office (USDA OCR) that found Fox non-compliant with Federal Laws and USDA Regulations and Guidelines. The USDA Final Agency Decision also found the Missouri DESE non-compliant due to the fact that DESE signs the assurance agreement with the USDA. 
Does the school board plan to wait until the U.S. Department of Justice is called in to enforce these compliance issues? 
I also have concerns with the fact that our board president and other school board members delete emails sent to them prior to even reading them.  I have not received responses from my emails. 
How can you as a school board represent the public if you do not read your emails and reply to them? 
You were elected to serve the entire community. Not just those that you wish to serve. 
I would also ask that the administration salary schedules be added to the June 25, 2013 board meeting packet along with the 2013-2014 school year budget that was listed as being added in your late packets and republished on the district website."

Thank you!
It will be interesting to see how our superintendent documents my Public Comments in the board meeting minutes. Since the district doesn't audio record the meetings, the public doesn't get to hear what's said at the meetings like they do in other school districts. I've made numerous requests to our school board to record school board meetings but no one has responded to my requests. Imagine that!! It's pretty obvious that the district doesn't want the public to know what's said at our board meetings.

I also want to mention that Fox C-6 school board member John Laughlin approached me after the meeting and told me that he wasn't happy with what Dianne Critchlow did during the meeting. I appreciated his feedback. John is a former neighbor of mine. I was glad to see him get on the school board. He asked some very good questions during the meeting about the budget. He has a business background so he is alert to those items.

If the school board secretary can copy the board meeting minutes and board packets to the website each month, there's no reason that the district's budget can't be posted as well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stark Similarities Between Fox C-6 and Lee's Summit R-7 School Districts!

I received an email today from a parent in Lee's Summit, Missouri. They found my blog and wanted to discuss with me the similarities between their school district and Fox C-6. Their email said that they already sent information from my blog to the Assistant Attorney General to provide comparison information.

Here is the list of similarities sent to me by a parent in the Lee's Summit R-7 school district.

Similarities Between Fox C-6 and Lee's Summit R-7:
  • OCR Resolution Agreement for Not Following Civil Rights Laws
  • Cease and Desist Orders Against People Who Question District Actions
  • Board Meetings Not Videotaped and Available For Broadcast
  • Violations of Board Policies, Federal, State and Local Laws
  • Questionable Use of Taxpayers' Funds
  • Educator Certification Issues
  • Failure By Board To Respond To Patrons' Concerns
  • Retaliation Against Anyone Who Questions The Board and Their Actions
  • Superintendent Does Not Want Community To Know About Resolution Agreement With OCR.
  • Taxpayer Dollars Used To Pay Attorneys to Fight Against Lawsuits When If They Followed The Laws, The Money Could Be Spent On The Education Of District Students
  • DESE Passes The Buck Back To Parents To Complain To Board and Nothing Gets Corrected On Behalf of Students
  • Community Only Reads All Of The District Generated Positive Public Relations Articles
  • District Boasts of Awards They Have Received (Questionable Data To Back Up These Awards.  Would An Award Even Be Justified If The Recipient Stated Up Front That They Are Being Monitored By the Department  of Education Office For Civil Rights For Non-Compliance Of Civil Rights Laws?)

After I read their list of similarities, I had to laugh because of how similar the problems are in Lee's Summit R-7 compared to Fox C-6. You can see that there are quite a few.
They stated in their email that there are many more.

First, you have to understand that many of the school districts in our state are represented by only a few law firms. Many of the attorneys in these firms have worked with or for the same firms before splitting or starting their own firms. Therefore, the same strategies and tactics are employed by nearly all of the districts in the state on legal issues. Plus, there are quite a few books out there as well on dealing with the media as a school district superintendent with useful tips on what and what not to do. It's all about controlling the image and perception of your school district. It's the superintendent's job to make their district look good.

For several years now I have known about issues in other school districts in our state as I researched the issues going on in the Fox district. But, seeing a list from another parent on the other side of the state proves that we have some serious problems with MO DESE and with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (ED OCR) in Kansas City, Missouri. 

U.S. Department of Justice Gets Involved
In speaking recently with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), I learned that the DOJ now has the ability to initiate their own independent investigations when ED OCR refuses to do so. Of course it helped that the USDA OCR Office asked the DOJ for assistance in getting Fox C-6 to comply with the USDA's August 2011 Final Agency Decision. The August 2011 USDA Final Agency Decision found both the Fox C-6 School District and MO DESE non-compliant with Section 504 and the ADA. So, in their efforts to bring the district into compliance if MO DESE doesn't do their job, the DOJ has been asking for documentation for their case against the school district. We are quite happy to supply them with the information we have. I also asked the DOJ about handling retaliation since that is directly written into the laws and they do cover that as well.

For example, there have been a lot of online libelous and defamatory attacks made against citizens who voice their concerns about our school district in online forums. And, what I find interesting about some of the comments made by these anonymous posters is that they seem to have access to information that only our top administrators would know about. For example when cease and desist letters were sent out and how someone made a reference about something happening before they were even sent.

Could it be a coincidence that these "anonymous" people have access to this information or are they just school supporters guessing? It's quite obvious that a few people in our school district don't like some of the questions posed at school board meetings by a few citizens in our community.

It's kind of humorous that the Character Education Trait of the month for June at Fox is Perseverance. That's the word that will hopefully be remembered by our school administrators and school board members as to how change is invoked in our community. I have been thanked by many teachers and staff for my efforts on calling out our school district's administration and school board. There are a few others in our community that are not afraid to speak out. They should be thanked as well. Hopefully in the end all of this effort will bring about a positive change within our school district.

It appears that Lee's Summit R-7 has a Resolution Agreement with ED OCR similar to Fox. However, Fox is also still undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review that Lee's Summit has not had yet. Fox's District Wide Compliance Review was initiated in March 2010 by ED OCR and it is still open as well according to a recent Freedom of Information Act request stating that ED OCR couldn't provide any information because the investigation was still ongoing.

I am hoping that providing this information and more to the U.S Department of Justice regarding problems with school districts in our state will lead to changes at MO DESE and ED OCR. ED OCR has allowed Fox C-6 to get by with doing practically nothing towards fulfilling the Resolution Agreement signed by the district in May 2009. You must be wondering why our school board hasn't done something to make sure Fox complies with Federal laws.

USDA Works Towards Enforcement
USDA OCR has been aware of problems in our state since 2008. In fact, in 2008 the USDA specifically came to Missouri to retrain districts after the USDA watched a video presented by attorneys at their annual school law seminar. Fox C-6 did not attend the training. The training was presented to the Food Nutrition Directors in our state. Maybe that's why our former Food Nutrition Director retired. Our district has a new Food Nutrition Services Director who is the daughter in law of one of our school board members. Our new Food Nutrition Director has been given two years to get her degree and certification to do her job since she only had a high school diploma when she was hired into the position with a salary of $65,000. I'm still wondering why Fox refused to meet with the USDA in March 2013 when the USDA came to do a Compliance Review of our district. But, then that was after the August 2012 meetings with the USDA when the district refused to comply with the USDA's Final Agency Decision.

Why would the USDA be more intent on compliance enforcement than ED OCR? I believe it could have something to do with the fact that the USDA's Regional Office is located in Colorado. In contrast, ED OCR's Regional Office is located in Kansas City, Missouri. The Director of the Kansas City ED OCR Office is Angela Bennet. Mrs. Bennet was an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Missouri. William (Bill) Dittmeier is the Chief Attorney for the KC ED OCR Office. Mr. Dittmeier was an attorney that represented the Kansas City School District for years before working at the Kansas City ED OCR Office.

Failings of the Kansas City ED OCR Office
Our experience with the Kansas City ED OCR Office has been quite similar to many others in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The KC ED OCR office has many investigations that have been open since 2009. Making Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the KC ED OCR Office are supposed to be handled within 20 days. Some requests have required multiple requests and have taken more than 6 months to get a response from this office. A quick search for Bill Dittmeier and Angela Bennet returned a link to the following document from the KC ED OCR office sent to a parent in Oklahoma. It's just another example of what has been happening in this ED OCR Office.

We contacted and voiced our concerns with Randolph Wills the U.S. Department of Education Enforcement Director regarding the Kansas City ED OCR Office a couple of years ago. Mr. Wills is the regional Director that oversees the Kansas City ED OCR Office. Mr. Wills responded a couple of years ago when I first contacted him. He informed me that he would look into our concerns and get back with us. Mr. Wills never got back with me and has not returned phone calls or emails left or sent to him since then. Not responding to concerns seems to be the same tactic taken by many school districts in our state take as well. U.S. Senator Roy Blunt's office even attempted to contact the Kansas City ED OCR Office and experienced similar problems. So this is not an isolated incident.

Since the USDA OCR office is not located in Missouri, there seems to be more enforcement efforts as opposed to ED OCR. ED OCR has allowed cases to remain open for years. Once they have a case go into monitoring ED OCR occasionally sends out monitoring letters to let the district know they still have or haven't complied with their Resolution Agreement. Sometimes it may be more than a year between monitoring letter updates.

The question we have sent KC ED OCR several times is, how many years does ED OCR allow a district to fail in fulfilling a Resolution Agreement before they move to enforcement or opening an investigation?

KC ED OCR responds with a standard letter stating that they will let you know when they plan to send out their next monitoring letter. For example, ED OCR informed us last year that they would be sending out a monitoring letter to Fox C-6 in August 2012. When that letter wasn't sent, they informed us it would be sent in November 2012. Then we were informed it would be sent in January 2013. Then we were told it would be March or April of 2013. ED OCR finally sent the monitoring letter on April 25, 2013. This was after the original April date that we were given. Do you see a pattern or problem here with this office?

Not Just A Statewide Problem
It's very disappointing to know that there are other school districts in our state that are doing the same thing as Fox C-6. It is also very disappointing to know that there are problems in other states that are covered by the Kansas City ED OCR Office as well. When asking ED OCR several times to engage the U.S. Department of Justice since it is documented in their Case Processing Manual that they will do so when a school district does not comply, ED OCR informed us that they weren't going to do so. ED OCR said the district had not indicated that they weren't going to comply. One would think that after 4 years of not complying with the Resolution Agreement and being given numerous updated deadlines, that ED OCR would recognize the fact that the Fox C-6 has no intentions of complying.

Now that the DOJ has informed us that regulations have been updated to allow them to initiate their own investigation independent of ED OCR, perhaps we will see improvements in our state and in the Kansas City ED OCR Office.

Fox C-6 Superintendent Salary Update Mid-Year Pay Hike?

From a Missouri Sunshine Request to MO DESE for all salaries for the Fox C-6 school district from 1990 to present, I found that the salary reported for superintendent Dianne Critchlow was NOT was reported to me by the school district last August for the 2012-2013 school year. MO DESE salary data provided by the school district reports superintendent Dianne Critchlow's salary at $246,824 instead of the $238,785 that was reported last fall. It should be noted that the salary reported to DESE does not include other perks such as a school SUV, insurance or annuity payments. We will have to wait for the June 2013 School Board Packets to be released this week to see how much Dianne Critchlow's salary will be for next year. Her new salary should be listed with the other salary schedules.

I also now know why then Dianne Brown informed me via email back in 2011 that my information was incorrect about how much her current husband Jamie Critchlow was paid for the 2009-2010 school year. According to MO DESE, school districts are required to report the amount that the person would have been paid if they worked the entire year in their position even if they started late in the year. So, her husband didn't make the full $98,589 since he worked as a teacher for a couple of months prior to being promoted to Director.

So, why was there an increase in the middle of the school year?

Since school salary data is public information, I am providing this information for the public so they can start asking our school board why they keep providing such LARGE pay increases to our superintendent during poor economic times. Also, you should ask our school board for some justification for those raises comparing our district to other districts under our superintendent's leadership. It has taken more than 2 years for our school administration and school board to work on and adopt new school board policies. Those policies have still not been updated. In fact, some of the policies were required to be updated to meet Federal law in May of 2009 by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR). The district still hasn't updated those policies for ED OCR even though the district signed a Resolution Agreement with the ED OCR to make the changes in May 2009. It would seem to me that a school superintendent making over $250,000 with benefits would be able to accomplish the simple things like updating policies under their watch. It also appears that our school board doesn't consider holding people accountable very seriously if those simple things can't be accomplished.

You may also want ask our school board why the Fox C-6 School District refused to meet with the USDA for a Compliance Review in March 2013. Our new Food Nutrition Services Director Kelly Nash would have been the one to meet with and discuss with the USDA the compliance review. Our district was found Non-Compliant by the USDA in August 2011. However, the USDA did meet with MO DESE since they are required to keep Missouri schools compliant.

I have read on Topix posts stating that our school district is not in jeopardy of losing any federal funds based on my previous articles on the Fox C-6 Watchdog site. Federal agencies really don't like to withhold funding federal funding from school districts. But, it is in their guidelines to do so when a district fails to come into compliance with the law. It will be interesting to see how the district handles becoming compliant now that the USDA is working with U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the DOJ, the USDA is attempting to work with MO DESE to bring the district into compliance. If MO DESE fails to bring our district into compliance, the DOJ will be ready to step in and conduct their own investigation and enforce compliance. Time will tell. 

It does make you wonder what our school board members are thinking doesn't it?

It's time to find a new superintendent who can get the job done!

Superintendent Critchlow's Salary Data:
2013 - $246,824
2012 - $228,573 - Dianne Critchlow
2011 - $215,276
2010 - $207,393
2009 - $192,586
2008 - $164,428
2007 - $152,068
2006 - $137,859
2005 - $108,663
2004 - $105,749
2003 - $102,633
2002 - $98,005
2001 - $28,529
2000 - $73,248
1999 - $68,879 - Dianne Brown
1998 - $61,273
1997 - $57,822
1996 - $33,018
1995 - $30,488
1994 - $26,268
1993 - $24,075
1992 - $22,906
1991 - $21,315 - Dianne Brewer

Director of Bridges Jamie Critchlow's Salary Data:
2013 - $116,103
2012 - $107,813
2011 - $101,884
2010 - $98,589

Monday, June 17, 2013

How Much Extra Does It Pay To Be Related to a Fox C-6 School Board Member?

Answer: $211,146
Over the Past 7 Years!

That's how much the wife of Fox C-6 school board member Dave Palmer made over the past 7 years compared to other nurses in our school district with similar years of service. In June 2006, Gee Palmer the wife of current Fox C-6 school board Vice-President Dave Palmer was promoted to district head nurse while Dave Palmer was the President of the Fox C-6 School Board. The situation sounds very familiar to the recent hiring of the Fox C-6 Food Nutrition Services Director Kelly Nash who is the daughter in law of current board member Linda Nash. Linda Nash was the school board President at the time Kelly Nash was hired by the district in 2012. Kelly Nash was hired with a starting salary of $65,000 as the Director of Food Nutrition Services while only having a high school diploma and a lot of "enthusiasm".

Was it unethical for the school board to approve hiring Gee Palmer or Kelly Nash to their positions? YES!

Did our school board members break the law by doing so? NO.

Did our school board members violate school board policy by hiring Kelly Nash? YES!
(Policy #4053 - The board failed to hire the best qualified person for the job. Policy #4053 DOES NOT state "most enthusiastic".)

Our school board has definitely violated the trust of the community and destroyed their reputations as board members with the exception of our two newest members who just started their jobs of representing our community. The community showed its disapproval of the former school board's actions by voting out both incumbent board members in the April 2013 election. Our superintendent Dianne Critchlow and her assistants most likely believed the incumbents wouldn't be voted out based on comments posted on the Topix forum. Normally the public doesn't pay much attention to what is happening on its school board unless there is trouble with district leadership or questionable decisions made by the school board. The hiring of then board president Linda Nash's daughter in law awakened the community. That one hire stood out and demonstrated how our school board and the superintendent had been taking advantage of the tax paying community to use their positions to help their families and friends and not necessarily the school district or the community.

When Gee Palmer was promoted to the Director of nursing position in 2006, she was given a pay raise of more than 75% according to salary data obtained from Missouri DESE via a Missouri Sunshine Law request. Prior to Gee Palmer's promotion, all nurses were making basically the same salary for the same number of years of service in the district. But, when Gee Palmer the wife of board member Dave Palmer was promoted to the head nursing position, the district increased her contract length and gave her a substantial raise.

Does a slightly longer contract justify a 75% pay increase?

What does Gee Palmer really do over the summer months to justify a 75% pay increase?

Do you think that a school board member who's wife received a 75% paying increase while working for the district is more likely to give our superintendent better raises?

Do you think that a school board member whose daughter in law gets hired as a Director within the district with a salary of $65,000 while only having earned a high school diploma over candidates who already earned the desired 4 year degree and credentials is more likely to give our superintendent better raises?

I think so!

Our School Board Sets the Superintendent's Salary
Our school board sets the salary for our superintendent. If some of our board member's family members are getting paid really well, do you think that may sway their decision to provide an even better raise for our superintendent?

Our superintendent's salary has increased from $137,859 to $246,824 between 2006 and 2013. You may remember that those were not the best years economically. Despite the fact that the economy was terrible and many people in other industries didn't get raises for years, Dianne Critchlow's salary was increased by 79%. One year, her salary was increased more than 17%. I think it's fair to ask our school board members how they justified giving her those raises. You may hear that other superintendents are making X dollars so we have to pay our superintendent X dollars in order to keep her.

It makes me wonder if our school board took into account the budgets and sizes of those other school districts when they are comparing our superintendent's salary with other districts? 

Did our school district see a 79% improvement in MAP scores, ACT scores or the percentage of students taking the ACT or any other statistical improvements over the past 7 years?

I haven't found anything to justify those types of raises.

Comparing Gee Palmer's salary with her 15 years of service in the district to the highest paid nurse in the district who has 27 years of service, Gee Palmer was paid $202,134 more than our highest paid nurse since being promoted to the Director of nursing. That's nearly $30,000 more per year than the highest paid nurse in the district.

So, it appears that it really does pay to be related to a school board member in the Fox C-6 School District. Her 75% increase in salary definitely gives the appearance that a school board member gained personally from his position on the board. In 2006, there wasn't any information posted about Gee Palmer's salary in the board meeting minutes nor who the other candidates were that were considered for the position. The same thing holds true for the recent hiring of Kelly Nash. Since, the previous district head nurse had not received any considerable pay difference as the district head nurse, there wasn't any reason to think that Gee Palmer would have been given such a raise. But, now that it's documented that this did occur, the community has lost all confidence in our school board to do the right thing.

The proposed changes to Fox's school board policy regarding nepotism would have prevented Gee Palmer from being promoted to the Director of Nursing back in 2006. The proposed changes to the nepotism policy specifically states that anyone in their current position would NOT be affected by the updated policy and would be allowed to keep their current positions. I believe the new policy needs to be as strict as Lindbergh's policy on nepotism and employees that are non-tenured teachers need to resign from their positions such as Gee Palmer and Kelly Nash effective immediately. Additionally, since Dave Palmer and Linda Nash as board members violated the trust of the community, they should also step down from their positions on the school board as well.

Our superintendent and school board has done an extremely poor job of handling the publicity of the hiring of Kelly Nash as the Director of Food Nutrition Services. Our superintendent tried to avoid the issue by refusing to discuss the problem. Her dodging the media is quite well known and definitely doesn't demonstrate the professionalism of someone making $246,824. Dan Smith spoke to Fox 2 News at the May school board meeting. He mentioned the proposed changes to the district's nepotism policies which I wrote about back in May. It was mentioned that the community could provide its input to the school board about the proposed changes. My suggestion is that the updated policy does not grandfather in those that have already taken advantage of the community. Those individuals should resign from their positions.

Not only should Kelly Nash and Linda Nash step down from their positions, but Gee and Dave Palmer should both step down from their positions as well. A personal gain of $211,146 from taxpayer dollars does not sit well with the community or district employees. However, district employees cannot or will not speak publicly on these matters for fear of retaliation. I have spoken on these issues and others and have been the target of many defamatory and retaliatory comments from people in our school district. I would venture to say that those comments most likely came from our school superintendent or her husband or one or two of the assistant superintendents in an attempt to defend their decisions. Their actions have really reflected poorly on our school district and our community. The district's tactic seems to be that those few administrators fearful of losing their jobs are willing to strike out at anyone that speaks out on these issues. Of course, they are speaking out anonymously in online forums or through a few people willing to post comments under their own name in support of our superintendent and our school board in the Leader newspaper.

Dave and Gee Palmer, please do the right thing for our community and resign from the school board and as the Director of nursing.

Linda Nash and Kelly Nash, please do the right thing for our community and resign from the school board and from the Director of Food Nutrition Services.

Our community needs people on our school that they can trust to conduct themselves in an ethical manner and do what is right for the school district and the community and not their own personal gain. Mr. Palmer and Mrs. Nash, you have broken that trust and you need to step down. This is the only way for our community to start rebuilding the trust that has been destroyed by your actions. Board members are elected to serve our community in an ethical manner and several of our board members have failed miserably.

I certainly hope our school board does the right thing and removes the "grandfather" clause of the proposed changes to the district's nepotism policy before adopting the changes. Please email or call your school board members or show up at the next school board meeting to voice your concerns regarding this issue and others.

Gee Palmer's Salary Data from MO DESE:
2013 - $76,553
2012 - $75,340
2011 - $72,969
2010 - $72,247
2009 - $69,134
2008 - $66,743
2007 - $61,726
2006 - $34,635
2005 - $32,829
2004 - $28,923
2003 - $26,558
2002 - $25,763
2001 - $22,750
1998 - $22,480
1997 - $20,475

Fox C-6 Nurse's Salary with Similar Years of Service:
2013 - $42,885
2012 - $42,184
2011 - $40,872
2010 - $41,381
2009 - $40,178
2008 - $38,539
2007 - $37,057
2006 - $32,710
2005 - $31,005
2004 - $28,923
2003 - $28,328
2002 - $25,763
2001 - $24,375
2000 - $20,135