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