Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fox C-6: More "Memory Holes" In August 2013 Board Meeting Packet

It took nearly 3 years of requests to our school board to get school board packets for Fox C-6 posted on the district website. They were first posted on the district website in February 2013. See my February 23, 2013 post regarding Progress Is Being Made Towards Transparency! Since then, I've made numerous requests for the district to post the board packets dating back to the 2008-2009 school year on the district website. So far, the board has not responded to my request nor have they posted the packets. Posting those packets would correspond with the school board meeting minutes that already exist on the district website.

Why should the district post the older board packets? It's a very simple fact. The community needs to do its own oversight of the district and the school board.

The school board has been failing to do their job for nearly 10 years and has been relying on our Superintendent for answers. Therein lies the problem. Our Superintendent is prone to providing false or misleading information or only half-truths. She will say anything in hopes that you will believe her. I have documented this problem many times. Our Superintendent's friends or "inner circle" as some people call them will write to the local newspapers or in online forums stating that my information is false or that my information is only from some "select facts". The research I do is very thorough and well documented. Documentation obtained from federal agencies and from MO DESE is irrefutable. If a mistake is made in my documentation, it will be corrected. So far, no one from the district or the school board has asked for any corrections. They are simply hoping that you don't come across this information. Our superintendent sent out Cease and Desist letters to individuals in our district in an effort to deter people from informing the public about problems in the district. You need to know the Truth and the Whole Truth.

Just for your information, the last state audit of the Fox C-6 school district was in March 2002. It might be a good time for a state audit considering the limited amount of documentation that the district has been willing to supply to the public. A state audit is much more thorough than the annual audit done by the firm the district hires to review their financial records. To no one's surprise the district receives glowing reviews on their local audit. You can find the last state audit report here:

You can find a copy of the June 30, 2011 Fox C-6 Audited Financial Statements performed by the Daniel Jones company here for comparison:

This is OUR school district. We elect people from our community to sit on the school board and watch over the district. It IS the school board's job to make sure that our Superintendent is doing her job and that our district IS following state and federal laws and our school board policies and regulations. If that doesn't happen and no one is watching out for the community, things will happen that shouldn't and no one will know a thing. That means that your tax dollars might not be getting used as well as they should in educating our children. Without our oversight, it makes it very easy for someone to take advantage of the system. This has already happened many times. 

Our district spent $135,935,354 in 2012. How well was that money spent? If you don't watch over things, you may end up not knowing what happened for years and by then it's too late. This recently happened in the Rockwood school district when the State Auditor discovered that the contractor where a former school board president worked had been inadvertently overpaid by $1.2 million dollars over the course of several years. Then it was determined that the district would not be able to recover the funds. Do you want the same thing to happen to your tax dollars?

Our Superintendent can tell you how great a job our school board does of watching over your money. But, should you believe what she tells you?

August 2013 Board Meeting Packet
Everyone in our community is very aware of the fact that the district has had several recent issues which didn't look good for our district, the school board or our community. The school board and the community are responsible for making sure that our superintendent is doing her job and is acting responsibly. If our Superintendent is withholding or not reporting information or is making it difficult or expensive to obtain, then you should be very concerned as to what is going on in our school district.

I highly recommend that you go to the Fox C-6 website and download the August 27, 2013 School Board Meeting Packet. It appears that the new website is allowing direct file links to documents such as the board meeting packets. So, you can click on the link above to download the file. The previous website didn't allow for direct links to many files on the Edline district website.

Below I have gone through and highlighted some of the important things that stood out in the most recent board meeting packet.

Missing Administrator Salary Schedule
This latest board packet is 332 pages long. It contains the Salary Schedule for Teachers and Classified Staff. However, it does not contain the Salary Schedule for our Administrators. It's quite convenient of the district to leave out the salary schedule for administrators. That would have given the public a clue as to how much the school board agreed to pay our Superintendent for the 2013-2014 school year. Our board paid our Superintendent $246,824 for the 2012-2013 school year. Our board members need to be made aware of the fact that the Administrator Salary Schedule is missing. It needs to be made available to the public for review. Remember, you are paying their salaries.

There are a lot of issues that need to be discussed and resolved with our school board regarding the information (or lack thereof "memory holes") that is being made available to the public for review. You probably never thought much about what goes on in our school district. But, when you start to see a lot of waste and issues that need to be addressed, you start reviewing things more closely. As many people have stated, there are many problems and what was highlighted by Fox 2 News was just the tip of the iceberg.

Salary Increases for Classified Staff of 2.5%
How is it that the salary schedule increases listed in the latest school board meeting packet show a 2.5% increase for many of the Classified positions while Superintendent Critchlow received a nearly 8% increase from 2012 to 2013? As you review the Classified Salary Schedules, take note as to how many of them state that there is a 2.5% Increase from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2013-2014 school year. Then read across the salary schedule and compare the salary amounts between 2013 and 2014. Either the description is incorrect for many of the entries or the formula for the increases are incorrect because many of the salary amounts are decreased. The spreadsheet file name at the bottom of the Salary Schedules show them as being C:\Users\Scott\Documents\Classified 13-14 salary schedule 062513.xls.

Memory Holes in Board Meeting Minutes
There are "Memory Holes" in the latest school board meeting minutes. At the June 25, 2013 school board meeting, I asked our school board about the open Resolution Agreement with ED OCR and the USDA Final Agency Decision ruling that was handed down to the district on August 18, 2011 which found Fox C-6 and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Non-Compliant with Section 504, ADA and the ADAAA. Any reference to those questions were left out of the June 25, 2013 school board meeting minutes contained in the August 2013 board meeting packet. How convenient for our Superintendent to leave out that information and hide it from the public. Your Superintendent's job is to keep the public informed. Not misinformed!

This has been an ongoing problem ever since I first spoke at a school board meeting in December 2010. The board meeting minutes for that meeting documented my Public Comments as "Concerns within the district.". I wrote to our school board and asked that my comments be documented in more detail because the public has no way of knowing what problems were addressed to the board when they're only listed as "Concerns within the district." Superintendent Brown responded to my request to the school board via email. She informed me that the school board secretary had called the Missouri School Board Association the next day and was told that our board meeting minutes met state law. Our Superintendent DOES NOT want the public to know what is going on in the district if it is going to reflect poorly on her or the school board. That's probably why our school board meetings aren't being audio or video recorded. I have asked numerous times for this to be done as well and have never received a response. That should be a "red flag" for the community.

Bill Payments Review
This month the school board is being asked to approve $10,168,423.25. Every once in a while there are checks that stand out when reviewing the bill payments that the school board is asked to approve each month at the board meeting. This month was no exception. Perhaps seeing some of the following Bill Payments below will prompt you to start reviewing what our school board approves each month at school board meetings in a quick vote of approval.

Checks to Kelly Nash?
There were two payments to board member Linda Nash's daughter in law who was hired in November 2012 as the district's new Food Nutrition Services Director for $65,000. The two checks to Kelly Nash are flagged with asterisks. Since Linda Nash is a school board member and is related to Kelly Nash, she must abstain from voting and approving the bill payments.

The checks being presented to Kelly Nash are as follows:
07/31/2013 - Nash, Kelly D *** -     $37.55
08/08/2013 - Nash, Kelly D *** - $2744.00

What do you think the $2744 check to Kelly Nash was for?

I can venture to guess that the $37.55 check was for mileage reimbursement. The new Bill Payments report DOES NOT provide any detail regarding what the payments are for like the old Bill Payments Report. This will need to be corrected! The old report would include comments such as Mileage Reimbursement or Legal Fees, etc.

Motivational Speaker Flip Flippen Cost - $10,000
When I first saw Superintendent Dianne Critchlow tweet on August 13, 2013, "Flip Flippen, New York Times Best seller & motivational speaker, addressed the entire Fox C-6 staff to kick off the new year.", I immediately wondered how much that cost the district. Well in the Bill Payments from the August Board Packet, there is a check dated  07/25/2013 for $10,000 to The Flippen Group. I certainly hope everyone was very motivated for that amount of money.

07/25/2013 - The Flippen Group - $10,000.00

Who approved the spending of $10,000 to motivate district staff?

I would bet that hiring a new Superintendent would have proven to be Much More Motivating for our teachers and staff instead of paying $10,000 for Flip Flippen to "address the entire Fox C-6 staff to kick off the new year".

I wonder how much copy paper that would have purchased for our school district?

Credit Card Payments Without Details
This is one of those big checks to pay off a credit card. Certainly it is legitimate and the school gets a percentage of their money back in "cash back" offers. However, Fox doesn't include the credit card statements in their board meeting packets like they do in other school districts. So, you really don't know what the payments were actually paying for. Fox needs to include a copy of the credit card statements in our board meeting packets. The school board has been approving payments like this for years. This needs to be documented much more thoroughly.

07/11/2013 - SAM'S CLUB DISCOVER -  $11,027.10
07/16/2013 - CARD SERVICES              -   $11,290.59
08/13/2013 - CARD SERVICES              - $118,925.73
07/23/2013 - AMERICAN EXPRESS     - $233,231.50

Missing 2013-2014 School Budget
At the June 2013 school board meeting, each member of the school board was given a copy of the 2013-2014 School Budget for review and approval. After the meeting, I asked Debbie Davis the school board secretary and custodian of records to post the 2013-2014 budget on the district website. She told me it would be a few weeks before she could get to it if she was allowed to post it. Well, the budget hasn't been posted and it wasn't included in the board meeting packets like it should have been since it was provided to the school board members at the board meeting.

Fox C-6 hasn't been publishing school budgets on the district website like they do in many other school districts of our size. Why is that? The district doesn't want you to know how they are spending your money. If you knew, you would start asking questions and that would lead to more accountability. If the public can be kept in the dark, that makes it all the easier let money slip through the cracks. As I documented in a previous post about the June 25, 2013 board meeting, Rockwood does an excellent job of documenting their school finances for their patrons. Fox needs to have the same. Our superintendent and school board should be able to provide the same documentation as Rockwood considering that we are paying our superintendent more than Rockwood's superintendent.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fox C-6 Only Ranked 173rd in State - Ranked 21st Among Local School Districts Under New State Standards!

Fox C-6 Only Ranked 173rd in state of Missouri out of 560 schools according to latest MSIP 5 Annual Performance Report! However, Superintendent Critchlow was the 4th Highest Paid Superintendent in the state for the 2012-2013 School Year.

This report should be a wake up call for our community. We have been told for years how great a job our district has been doing by our superintendent with very little evidence to support her claims. This latest report isn't just about MAP scores. It now includes college and career readiness. In a prior post, I pointed out that Fox is in the bottom 25% of the state for the Percentage of Graduates Taking the ACT. This latest report takes that into account as well as the district's Composite ACT Score.

We as a community want our students and our district to do well. Fox is not a poor performing district. However, it's not one of the top schools that Superintendent Critchlow has been overly touting it to be. Her salary however has apparently been increased by our school board based upon those exaggerated claims. Now that Missouri DESE has calculated a "letter grade" for each school district in the state, it's much easier to see how Fox really compares to other districts. The Show Me Institute addressed this in an article stating that letter grades help address transparency since it has been very difficult until now to see how your school district compares to other districts.

Now that you are able to compare Fox to other districts in the state, do you have a different opinion as to how well our district is doing compared to what our Superintendent has been telling you?

Do you think our Superintendent is being paid too much money to run our school district based on Fox's recent ranking in the state?

So, how did this happen? Fox has a list of accomplishments on the district website. Based upon that list of accomplishments, Fox appears to be doing really well. After all, Fox earned a Perfect Score year after year on Missouri's Annual Performance Report since Critchlow was promoted to Superintendent. Here are some of those accomplishments listed on Fox's website are:

  • The District has received Distinction in Performance from the state of Missouri for 10 years in a row
  • Fox C-6 School District named as a National District of Character, 2009
  • Perfect Score on Missouri's Annual Performance Report (APR) 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • Lone Dell Elementary named as a National Blue Ribbon School
  • Lone Dell Elementary named as a Missouri Gold Star School
  • Several schools named as DESE Top 10 Schools for academic achievement
One of the most touted accomplishments in at Fox is that the district is a "National District of Character". It can be found on the district's website and nearly every piece of paper sent home to parents. It's on the cover sheet of most school board documents. Character education is a good thing. Building self-esteem for every student is a good thing as well. However, touting it so heavily loses its luster quickly when district administrators and some school board members don't seem to follow many of the Character Education traits. The traits that appear to be the least followed are Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Service and Responsibility. These traits are imprinted as watermarks on district letter head. Those words become meaningless when you see how certain individuals conduct themselves at board meetings, parent meetings, in the media and in their correspondences. It's time for these words to be removed from many of our documents as they aren't worth the ink required to print them. Perhaps in the future under new leadership they can regain their worth. But until then, they should be removed.

For more information on MSIP 5 and the new Performance Report visit Missouri DESE's website here:

With limited information and limited oversight by our school board, the board has nearly doubled Superintendent Critchlow's salary since she was promoted to Superintendent in 2005.

Can Fox C-6 taxpayers and Missouri taxpayers get a refund on our Superintendent's salary?

Tuesday August 27, 2013 is the next school board meeting. This would be a very good time to go to a school board meeting and ask our school board some questions. After all, the school board works for the community and the Superintendent is hired by the school board. It's not the other way around. Remember that you will need to fill out a Public Comments form in order to speak at the board meeting and it must be handed in prior to 6:45PM.

The Rockwood School District now has open discussions with the community prior to their regular school board meetings in addition to the Public Comments session. Fox C-6 needs to have similar meetings so the community can discuss with our board members that represent us what our concerns are within the district! After all, they work for us.

You can read more about Missouri DESE's new public school system rating system in the St. Louis Post Dispatch and see where Fox ranks among the other schools.

Gone is that "Perfect Score" claim when Fox met 14 of 14 standards. There is now a much finer grading system.

If Superintendent Critchlow was paid according to our district rank among the LOCAL districts, that would have placed her salary at $192,238 instead of the $246,824 she was paid for the 2012-2013 school year!

Everyone person I speak with about the problems in our district are always shocked to learn how much our school board has been paying our Superintendent. This is a systemic problem across the state. However, our school board has not been doing its due diligence and is not being fiscally responsible with respect to central office administration pay.

It's time to tell your friends and neighbors to contact our school board members and let them know that this is completely unacceptable. Our school district needs new leadership and a new pay scale for our central office administrators. There's no way that our school board can justify the outrageous salaries when school performance doesn't match up to those of other districts.

Local School District Rankings Under
Missouri DESE's New Rating System

School District
Franklin County
Webster Groves
Francis Howell
Spring Bluff
New Haven
Ft. Zumwalt
Fox C-6
Orchard Farm
Wright City
Jefferson Co.
Valley Park
Hancock Place
Maplewood-Richmond Heights
St. Clair
Crystal City
Meramec Valley
St. Charles
Warren Co.
University City
Riverview Gardens
St. Louis City

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Willful Blindness: How Fox C-6 School Board Leaders Have Turned a Blind Eye!

A new TED Talk by Margaret Heffernan truly hits home as to what has been going on in the Fox C-6 School District for quite some time. Her TED Talk is titled, The Dangers of Willful Blindness. She has a very powerful message with regard to Willful Blindness and how it can harm a community or an institution such as a school system.

So, what is Willful Blindness?

Margaret Heffernan describes it very well at 5:50 into her TED Talk presentation:
This wasn't ignorance. It was willful blindness. Willful blindness is a legal concept which means, if there's information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know, the law deems that you're willfully blind. You have chosen not to know. There's a lot of willful blindness around these days.

How true her statements are about how our school board has been Willfully Blind for quite some time. When school leaders turn a blind eye and willfully choose not to know, they can do a lot of harm to the community and to their own reputation. Willful blindness also applies to the community for not speaking up about the problems that they see in our school district that have been going on for a number of years. I know that most people who work for the school district are too afraid to say anything for fear of losing their jobs. And, people in our community are afraid to say anything for fear of retaliation. Ignoring these problems has kept our school district from achieving the academic success that many other school districts in the area have achieved such as Rockwood, Parkway, Lindbergh, Clayton and Ladue.

When our school leaders are spending a lot of time and money trying to get around the law, they aren't doing the jobs they were hired and paid to do. In turn, our students and children aren't being provided the same opportunities that students are given in other districts that have higher academic achievement. It's our job as parents and patrons of the school district to always be watching and learning what other school districts are doing and let our school board know how they are doing. We can't let our board count on getting the information only from our superintendent. She has told me several times that they don't do what I say they do in other districts. You need to go and look for yourself.  Learn what they are doing in other districts. Share that information and work towards bringing a positive change to our district. Visit their websites and download their documents. Find out how open they are with their parents and community. Our school board and administrators don't even take the time to check our own district website to see if our documents are even there, if the spelling or grammar is correct, or if our calendar days add up on our district calendars. Our totals didn't add up, and after I informed them the district removed the totals from the calendar.

The public has been told numerous times that our superintendent and central office administrators and school board are doing such a great job without providing any substantial data to back up those claims. It's all about generalities. That's why it's important that you speak up and ask why isn't Fox achieving the same level of academic achievements and accolades as other districts. Fox brags about being a National District of Character on almost every document it sends out. Yet, you don't see that near as often at other National District of Characters such as Lindbergh. There you will see some great academic achievements. You need a leader that will inspire. Not one that will threaten you for voicing your concerns. Ask our school board why they are paying our superintendent more money than the superintendents of the schools that have achieved much higher academic accomplishments than Fox.

Don't be Willfully Blind as to what is going on!
Our school board has also been Willfully Blind to information that has been provided to them numerous times over the past 5 years and yet decided to do nothing. Our school board allowed our superintendent to spend $510,473 in legal fees over the past 5 years as she and school district attorneys have taken every possible effort to get around the law.

Finally, the USDA after giving Fox C-6 and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO DESE) more than 2 years to comply with their August 18, 2011 Final Agency Decision has finally stepped in and put an end to their charades and legal delays. It's good to see the USDA finally stepping in and enforcing the law. Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker never mentioned the fact that the school district was denied their appeal of the USDA Final Agency Decision on August 15, 2012 and was given a 30 day notice to comply or have the ruling handed over to the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Baker also never mentioned the fact that all of the recent changes made by the district were the result of MO DESE telling the district that they had to comply with Section 504 law because MO DESE was told by the USDA that they had to ensure that Fox complied with the law because the USDA gives the state a lot of money for the school lunch program.

It's been amazing to see the 180 degree turnaround by both our school district and MO DESE since the new USDA National Director for Civil Rights for Food Nutrition Services told the state that they must comply with their Regulations and Guidelines.

The school district's legal counsel has been stating for years that they don't have to follow USDA Regulations and Guidelines because they aren't law. Well, they are the interpretation of the law and things have changed! There hasn't been a USDA National Director for Civil Rights for Food Nutrition Services for more than 2 years. Therefore rulings weren't being handled as vigorously as they could have he said. The new National Director for Civil Rights is now very much engaged and will be working to ensure that both our state and our school district becomes compliant with Section 504 law and the USDA Regulations and Guidelines.

Because our school board has been Willfully Blind and looked the other way for the past 5 years, it has cost Fox C-6 taxpayers a lot of money. The arrogance of our superintendent and other administrators and school district attorneys allowed them to believe that their wrong doings would never catch up with them. Problems that have been going on for nearly a decade in our state are finally been reigned in. These changes will also be seen on a national level as well. The USDA is working on rewriting its Regulations and Guidelines so they are less ambiguous so attorneys find fewer ways to get around the law.

One of the important points made by Margaret Heffernan in her TED Talk is what she says she learned from the people she interviewed in doing her research on Willful Blindness:
What the research shows is that some people are blind out of fear. They're afraid of retaliation. And some people are blind because they think, well, seeing anything is just futile. Nothing's ever going to change. If we make a protest, if we protest against the Iraq War, nothing changes, so why bother? Better not to see this stuff at all.

And the recurrent theme that I encounter all the time is people say, "Well, you know, the people who do see, they're whistleblowers, and we all know what happens to them." So there's this profound mythology around whistleblowers which says, first of all, they're all crazy. But what I've found going around the world and talking to whistleblowers is, actually, they're very loyal and quite often very conservative people. They're hugely dedicated to the institutions that they work for, and the reason that they speak up, the reason they insist on seeing, is because they care so much about the institution and want to keep it healthy. 
And the other thing that people often say about whistleblowers is, "Well, there's no point, because you see what happens to them. They are crushed. Nobody would want to go through something like that." And yet, when I talk to whistleblowers, the recurrent tone that I hear is pride.
It has been a long 5 years dealing with an arrogant superintendent and an unresponsive school board. We contacted the school board back in April 2010 and received no response. Then we contacted the board in January 2012 after the USDA issued its Final Agency Decision in August 2011 and received no response. Then we contacted the board in July 2012 only to receive a response from the school district attorney stating that the district had appealed the USDA's Final Agency Decision and that was the last time the district would respond. Then in August 2012, the district sent a Cease and Desist letter that again reiterated that the school district had already resolved the matter. However, this letter was sent after the district had been denied their appeal and had been given a 30 day notice to comply or have the matter handed over to the U.S. Department of Justice. It certainly appears that the Fox C-6 School Board has been practicing Willful Blindness.

At 11:45 into Margaret Heffernan's presentation, she speaks about the freedom to write and publish without fear of censorship. Superintendent Critchlow has used taxpayer dollars in an attempt to keep parents and patrons in our district from speaking up about issues that need to be addressed by our school board by sending out Cease and Desist letters. She has created "memory holes" in school board meeting minutes by leaving out any details of Public Comments that she finds unfavorable for her or the school board. Our school board has been Willfully Blind on this matter as well by approving the minutes with Public Comments documented only as "concerns within the district". Writing to our school board concerning this practice resulted in a response from Superintendent Critchlow stating that the minutes met state law. As a taxpayer, you are not being allowed to know what is going on within our district. This violates school board policies. As Margaret Heffernan states below, those of us that are working to right the wrongs in our district are very determined and persistent despite our Superintendent's retaliatory comments and abuse of power.
We all enjoy so many freedoms today, hard-won freedoms: the freedom to write and publish without fear of censorship, a freedom that wasn't here the last time I came to Hungary; a freedom to vote, which women in particular had to fight so hard for; the freedom for people of different ethnicities and cultures and sexual orientation to live the way that they want. But freedom doesn't exist if you don't use it, and what whistleblowers do, and what people like Gayla Benefield do is they use the freedom that they have. And what they're very prepared to do is recognize that yes, this is going to be an argument, and yes I'm going to have a lot of rows with my neighbors and my colleagues and my friends, but I'm going to become very good at this conflict. I'm going to take on the naysayers, because they'll make my argument better and stronger. I can collaborate with my opponents to become better at what I do. These are people of immense persistence, incredible patience, and an absolute determination not to be blind and not to be silent.
Our Superintendent and school board are now having to answer to a federal agency and possibly to the Department of Justice for their past actions. It is impossible to keep the facts and the truth from the public forever. It has taken an enormous amount of persistence and patience to get to this point. So, it is very rewarding to see the USDA finally taking steps to correct things not only in our school district but also in our state. The USDA has informed the district that what they were doing was "not legal". It was also good to hear the National Director of Civil Rights tell me that our superintendent was incorrect in saying that the matter with the USDA was "in litigation" at the June 2013 school board meeting. He said in order for it to be "in litigation", someone would have had to file a lawsuit and none have been filed. It's just another nice way for our Superintendent to keep information from the public by saying things are "in litigation". This is another Willful Blindness that our school board continually practices by ignoring or looking the other way to all of the false and misleading statements Superintendent Critchlow makes all the time.

Margaret Heffernan also wrote an article that I highly recommend reading which was published in the Ivey Business Journal titled:

This article discusses why leaders choose to ignore things that need to be seen. The chief among the culprits is power. The other theme that you will notice that plays a huge problem with our school district leadership is something you will most likely notice about our school leadership:

Leaders inhabit a bubble of power, and they are both mentally and physically cut off from the reality most people would recognize. Reality is the obligation to tell the truth, “the reality most people would recognize” is the imperative, if they witness improper or unlawful behavior, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This author explains why leaders resist the imperative and how they – and we – can avoid the temptation.
It is one thing to just throw out general statements of success and achievement as our superintendent often does. It is another to be able to back up those statements and claims with hard data such as MAP scores and ACT Composite Scores and Percentage of Students taking the ACT. That is something that Fox just can't compare yet to those other districts. Yet her salary for last year made her the 4th highest paid public school superintendent in the state of Missouri.

Our school board takes advantage of the Willful Blindness of the community by not publishing data on the district website such as school budgets, audio or video recordings of school board meetings or prior years school board packets. Superintendent Critchlow doesn't want the community to have this information because it exposes things that she and the district simply don't want you to know. If you don't know about these things, you won't be asking questions. That's how our superintendent has been able to keep her job thus far! Maybe you should ask our school board a few questions to see what they have to say about how much money they've spent on legal fees over the last 5 years. I have. I asked Dan Smith last December about this issue after the school board meeting.  I still haven't received a response!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Day of School! - NO Lunch Menus Online - Fox C-6 FNS Director Falling Down On The Job!

Wednesday Evening UPDATE!
I learned earlier today that a few people had emailed or called Kelly Nash or the school to find out why the lunch menus had not been posted on the district website. Several of the responses said that Kelly Nash was blaming the missing menus on a computer issue and that the tech department was working on the problem. Her email said she apologized for not having them available. Others had posted that the school district had a new website and they may have been the problem. Then a few others posted that parents should just send a bag lunch with their kids if they didn't have the menu information available. The problem with that response is that it was our Food Nutrition Services Director's job to make sure the menus were available for the parents prior to the start of school. It is part of her job as a Director.

Who's Responsible?
The taxpayers are paying Kelly Nash more than $65,000 to do the job she was hired to do. If she cannot do that job, then she needs to be fired. Ultimately, it is Superintendent Critchlow's job to make sure that district employees are doing their job. If she can't do that, then she needs to be fired as well. It's the school board's responsibility to ensure that Superintendent Critchlow is doing her job. If they can't do their job, then the community needs to ask them to step down and find new board members that can.

The Blame Game!
To blame the delay on the new website is irresponsible and just an attempt to cover for incompetent leadership. The new website has been online since June 25, 2013. The district has had more than a month and a half to get everything posted online. The menus should have been ready for at least a month. The menus for Elementary, Middle, High School and Bridges that were posted on Wednesday evening as PDF documents were dated August 14, 2013 with time stamps between 5:32PM and 6:23PM and were generated using Word 2007. The menus may have been prepared sooner, but they were definitely still work on them as of Wednesday evening to get them published on the district website. Other documents have been on the district website for some time and the Documents Container Folder for the menus was created on July 10, 2013. You can be assured that you will not get the truth when asking questions of our school administrators and staff!

For those that are interested, you can find more information about the National School Lunch Program at the USDA Food Nutrition Services (FNS) website:

USDA FNS Regulations:
USDA FNS Program Policies:

School Board Responsibilities
The district should have been planning food menus when ordering food. How long is our school board and the community going to accept excuse after excuse for people not doing their jobs. It's time that our school board holds people accountable. Our district is suffering thanks to the school board's lack of accountability of our school leadership. The school board needs to start firing people and qualified individuals that CAN do the job they were hired to do.

Pay For Performance - Reduction In Pay
Last year we paid $246,824 just in salary for Superintendent Critchlow to run our school district. That amount doesn't include any of the other benefits she receives. Her salary was the 4th highest amount for a superintendent in the state of Missouri last year. If she can't ensure that the simple things are getting done in our district, she's going to have trouble completing the more important things.

Someone defending the district posted that Fox Senior High was ranked 26th in the state and that the community was getting more than it was paying for because our taxes are so low. If that's the comparison we should use, then Dianne Critchlow shouldn't be the 4th Highest Paid Superintendent in the state. She should be the 26th highest paid in the state. This would lower her salary to below $185,000. That would be more in line with what she should be getting paid. You can check out last year's Top 25 Highest Paid Superintendent's in my previous post. 

Below is my original post from early Wednesday morning prior to the start of school. Be sure and email or call your school board members and let them know that we need a NEW Superintendent and a NEW Food Service Director. Show up at the next school board meeting and voice your concerns! The next meeting is Tuesday August 27, 2013. Remember that you must show up and hand in your Public Comments signup form prior to 6:45PM or you won't be allowed to speak.

Our school district and community deserves much better leadership and more accountability! 

My Original Post from Wednesday Morning
I was informed that quite a few parents are upset with the fact that on the day before the first day of school there still aren't any lunch menus posted on the district website. As of 6:30AM this morning, there still aren't any lunch menus on the district website or on the individual school websites that I checked.

Please email your school board members and ask them where the lunch menus are. Our school board members are the ones that approved the hiring of current board member and then school board president Linda Nash's daughter in law, Kelly Nash to the Fox C-6 Food Nutrition Service Director position for $65,000.

Here is the Fox C-6 School Board Members webpage where you can find their email addresses:

Here is the home page for the Fox C-6 Food Nutrition Services webpage where you can find Kelly Nash's email address:

Perhaps Kelly Nash's "enthusiasm" has worn off!

Or, it could be that she has been too busy taking college courses trying to earn her degree and certification that the district is giving her 2 years to obtain. We will most likely never know. Emailing our school board or asking questions during public comments is rarely if ever answered.

Perhaps Superintendent Critchlow will be Tweeting out the lunch menus for everyone!

So you may want to be checking her twitter feed just in case.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Have A Problem! Fox's Superintendent Was The 4th Highest Paid in the State for 2012-2013!

Recently the St. Louis Post Dispatch removed links to their Missouri Educator's Salary database searches from their website. I was curious to know how Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow's salary compared to other school superintendents in the state of Missouri. So, I made a Missouri Sunshine Law Request to MO DESE.  Within a couple of days, MO DESE emailed me a copy of all Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent salaries for the state of Missouri from 1990 to 2013 in an Excel spreadsheet at no cost.

I wanted to do some data mining to see the trends in superintendent salary over the years as superintendent salaries seem to be climbing out of control.

After a quick sort of the data, it showed that
Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow
was the 4th Highest Paid School Superintendent
in the state of Missouri for 2012-2013!

For the last two years, Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow has only been handed a 7% and 8% salary increase by the Fox C-6 School Board during these booming economic times! As of last year, she still hadn't obtained the top salary in the state. Maybe she will this year. We won't know until the public is provided with the 2013-2014 Salary Schedule. The 2013-2014 School Budget hasn't been provided to the public either.

Below is a comparison chart of some data obtained from the Missouri DESE (MO DESE) website for the 25 schools that paid their superintendents the Highest Salaries for the 2012-2103 school year in the state of Missouri. The numbers highlighted in green are representative of numbers that are higher than or better than those from Fox. It seems that there are a lot of school districts that have higher expenditures and number of students than Fox yet have much lower paid superintendents. The same holds true for schools having much higher percentages of students taking the ACT and higher ACT Composite Scores.

How is our school board calculating our Superintendents value
to the school district and to the community?

Missouri's Top 25 Superintendent Salaries for 2012-2013

District Name
Salary Amount2012
% Tested
Comp Score
Total Expenditures
% of
From Local Taxes
KANSAS CITY 33$250,00015,33697.216.4$225,824,11771.12
FOX C-6$246,82411,61456.022.3$135,958,35350.73
SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT$233,7004,211n/an/a$374,210,62065.38
LINDBERGH SCHOOLS$233,6985,83084.523.0$81,605,92592.52
NORTH KANSAS CITY$233,32218,67465.221.1$275,109,44169.43
PARKWAY C-2$227,00017,35396.123.3$315,911,72692.23
ST. LOUIS CITY$224,00422,51669.916.5$452,146,76262.80
INDEPENDENCE 30$222,60013,84352.321.1$184,433,30045.75
ORCHARD FARM R-V$203,0571,53667.722.4$20,131,99078.98
FRANCIS HOWELL R-III$195,99316,99876.622.8$230,803,02571.51
COLUMBIA 93$195,99216,92373.623.4$265,069,86365.54
UNIVERSITY CITY$192,2383,02485.118.5$63,192,64375.26
JEFFERSON CITY$189,5008,69065.221.5$90,848,49268.66

For comparison, I have listed a couple of other 2012 salaries below. Is our Superintendent really worth twice as much money as the Governor of Missouri or worth more than what the Vice President of the United States makes?

United States Vice President  -  $230,700
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon  -  $133,820 

Questions For Our School Board
Has anyone in our community been provided any justification as to how our school board has increased our Superintendent's pay from $137,589 in 2006 to $246,824 in 2013?

Dianne (Brown) Critchlow first shows up as an assistant superintendent in 2002 in the MO DESE data. She was paid $98,005 that year. She was promoted to Superintendent in 2006 and was paid $137,589 that year. As you can see by the numbers below she has had salary increases as high as 17% in a single year since being promoted to Superintendent. Those salary increases were given despite the poor economic conditions at the time.

Superintendent Critchlow speaks quite often about the Flawed Education Funding Formula. However, it doesn't seem to be affecting her salary whatsoever. Perhaps our school board has a Flawed Superintendent Pay Scale Formula which should be fixed!

Superintendent Dianne Critchlow's Salary Year By Year
2002 -   $98,005
2003 - $102,633
2004 - $105,749
2005 - $108,663
2006 - $137,589
2007 - $152,068
2008 - $164,428
2009 - $192,586
2010 - $207,393
2011 - $215,276
2012 - $228,573
2013 - $246,824

Comparing Superintendent Salaries With Other Districts
Our school board is doing a great disservice to both our community and to all taxpayers across the state of Missouri by paying our Superintendent such a high salary!

School Budget Amounts
Fox's annual expenditures are half that of Rockwood and only about a third of the amount of Parkway. That seems like a huge reason to question why our Superintendent is being paid a higher salary than those other districts. The percentage of her salary compared to the annual budget is obviously much higher than those other districts. It definitely doesn't make sense that you would pay higher salary with half or 1/3 the annual budget of those other districts. Plus, you have to look at how much of that funding is coming from local taxes verses state taxes. Should Fox burden everyone in the state by paying our such a high salary?

Percentage of Local Taxes
What's wrong with asking 42.29% of the taxpayers in the state of Missouri to pick up the tab for our overpaid superintendent? Only 50.73% of Fox's funding comes from Local Taxes while 42.29% comes from the state and the remaining amount comes from federal taxes. Therefore, our school board is burdening state tax payers with having to pick up nearly half the tab of Superintendent Critchlow's over the top salary. If school districts like Kirkwood and Lindbergh want to pay their superintendents a large salary, at least they are putting that burden on their own community. Let's not forget that the school district (aka taxpayers) is also paying another 14.5% on top of all certified salaries into Missouri's Public School Retirement System.

Transparency Issues
Transparency has been one of Fox's biggest problems. This is probably the number one reason that we have such a problem at Fox. Who is to blame for this? Our Superintendent and our school board. Our Superintendent is required to keep the board and the public informed about what is going on within our school district. However, it is definitely to our superintendent's advantage to not be forthcoming with information. If the public is kept in the dark about what's happening in the district, you have no reason to be asking questions. If you do ask questions, you most likely won't get a response or the district will make it expensive or time consuming to obtain the information.

However, it is the school board's job to make sure that the public is kept informed about how the district is performing and how it is spending your money. Fox spent more than $135 Million Dollars last year of taxpayer money. Do you trust that they are handling your money wisely? Without your ability to review how your money is being spent, you will never know. The same logic applies to hiring employees, salary schedules and how much and on what the district is spending your bond issue dollars on.

It has become pretty apparent that we can't "just trust" what our Superintendent tells the community. Below are some of the questions that I have asked our school board and have never received responses for or have received unacceptable responses as to why they couldn't do things. By not responding, it becomes quite clear that the district doesn't want you to know what's going on.

If our superintendent is one of the top paid superintendents in the state, then she should be keeping the community just as informed as the other school districts that have superintendents making far less than she does!
  • Why doesn't Fox Video and/or Audio Record school board meetings and post them on the district website like they do in other school districts? (Board meeting minutes don't reflect or document the meeting very well or very accurately on occasion. Our superintendent isn't going to publish details of Public Comments in the minutes that she doesn't want the Public to know about.)
  • Why doesn't Fox post their Annual Budget on the district website like they do in Rockwood and other school districts?
  • Why haven't 2013-2014 Salary Schedules been published?
  • Why did it take more than 2 years of requests to get the school district to post school board meeting packets with check payment listings onto the district website? (The district just started posting board meeting packets in February 2013. An additional request had to be made to get them posted to the beginning of the school year.)
  • Why won't the district post board packets dating back to the 2008-2009 to match the school board meeting minutes published on the website? (The board meeting minutes are pretty meaningless without the board meeting packets. This question has been asked several times with no response.)
  • Why doesn't Fox publish the board meeting minutes within 3 days of a school board meeting like they do in other districts? (This question has been asked several times as well.)
  • Why didn't Fox publish the August 2012 Bond Issue Budget on the district website until I requested it?
  • Why did Fox remove the August 2012 Bond Issue Budget from the district website right after the Bond Issue passed when our Superintendent thanked the community? (I requested that the 2012 Bond Issue Budget get reposted onto the district website but received no response and the data has not been reposted.)
  • Why did it take several years of asking to get the district to provide individual email addresses for our school board members?
Enrollment and Number of Schools
Fox has only half the number of students as Rockwood and only a little more than half the number of schools as Rockwood and Parkway. Lee's Summit's superintendent is making more than Superintendent Critchlow, but Lee's Summit also has nearly a third more the number of students than Fox.

Academic Performance
Lindbergh has been ranked #1 in the state in academics for 3 years in a row. So, their superintendent has something to show performance wise to validate his high salary. So, how does our school board justify paying Superintendent Critchlow more money than Lindbergh's superintendent? It is a perplexing question.

ACT Testing
Well, Fox is way behind most of the districts in both ACT Composite Scores and in the Percentage of Students taking the ACT. Fox has 40% fewer students taking the ACT test than Rockwood, Parkway and Kansas City. Fox has the lowest percentage of students taking the ACT of the top 10 highest paid superintendents in the state and by a significant amount. So, that's not a good comparison to justify why she is being paid a higher salary as well.

School Supplies
Has anyone ever questioned why Ridgewood Middle School requests that each student bring in 2 reams of copier paper for school supplies at the beginning of the year? Perhaps our school board members should reduce Superintendent Critchlow's salary and apply that money towards purchasing enough copier paper for the schools. It would also be helpful if they purchased enough books for each school as well. Our superintendent should be budgeting for those types of items as part of her job. Perhaps she isn't doing as good of a job as she tells the school board she's doing. It takes good leadership skills to hold people accountable. Somewhere there is a breakdown of accountability and we as taxpayers are paying the price as well as our students in the school district. This year Ridgewood Middle School is requesting a $6 fee for a locker combination and a school planner. I thought the lockers were already in the building.

It simply appears that there just isn't much data to justify paying Fox's superintendent the 4th highest salary in the state. Note that this ranking was for the 2012-2103 school year. We still don't know what her salary is going to be for the 2013-2014 school year. Based upon last year's salary schedule and what she was eventually paid for the year, she may have a salary at or above $260,000 for the 2013-2014 school year. That salary amount does not include benefits. Last year, the taxpayer was paying an additional 14.5% (at least $35,789) in addition to her salary into the Missouri Public School Retirement System as well.

Our community needs to wake up and start calling and emailing your school board members to let them know that this is unacceptable! Fox is not making the grade compared to Lindbergh, Rockwood or Parkway academically. So, to pay our superintendent more than their superintendents gives the appearance that our school board is just pulling numbers out of a hat.

If you were to compare the percentage of students taking the ACT as a comparison ratio to the percentage of students taking the ACT at Rockwood, Parkway and Kansas City, then her salary should be reduced by 40%.  That would put her salary more in line with what it should be.

The Missouri Education Watchdog website has an article from July 2013 titled, "You Might Need A New Superintendent If...". I recommend checking out this article as it is very appropriate.

Our school board members are accountable to the taxpayers that elected them to oversee our school district. They need to create a list of reasons as to why they believe our superintendent should be making this much money and post it on the district website.

Please contact your school board members and ask them to explain how our superintendent was worth $246,824 last year!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Facts About That "MSBA Outstanding School Board Award" Nomination Tweet!

Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow has gotten her own Twitter account. It must have been a suggestion at one of the recent administrator training seminars since it appears that quite a few superintendents are now using Twitter to keep the patrons of their district more informed.

Keeping the community informed IS part of a superintendent's job. However, telling the truth or the whole truth is also something that they should do when keeping you informed. I believe our community is starting to see through all of the "smoke and mirrors" being presented by our Superintendent. If not, keep on reading because not everyone in the community is aware of what she has been doing. Those that are informed have been watching our school board sit back and allow it to happen. If your school board fails to respond to your questions, you can pretty much bet that they aren't doing anything and they don't want the public to know what is going on.

Superintendent Critchlow likes to blurt out statements that aren't always true and her statements are starting to catch up with her. I think she does this to justify the enormous amount of salary that our school board has been providing her over the last several years and she thinks that everyone will simply believe her because she is the superintendent. There just doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why our school board has given our Superintendent such enormous raises.

But, it seems to be working that some of the community is still being fooled because the school board keeps giving her incredible raises and the community doesn't seem to care or notice. Perhaps in one of her next Tweets she could post how much she will be earning for the 2013-2014 school year. The school district hasn't yet released this year's salary schedule despite my request for that and the 2013-2014 school year budget.

Last year, Superintendent Critchlow was reported by MO DESE as making $246,824. That's nearly $10,000 more than her salary schedule that was released by the school district to me at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. No one has mentioned how that happened.

So, how does your Superintendent go about trying to boost the confidence of the community in the school board?

She posts on Twitter about the Fox C-6 school board. On Wednesday August 7, 2013, she posted the following message:
Dr. Dianne Critchlow @FoxC6Supt
Congrats to the Fox C-6 Board of Education for their nomination to MSBA's Outstanding Board of Education Award

Wow! That sounds impressive!

It makes you think that the MSBA thinks highly of the decisions made by our school board over the last year and all of the publicity that they and our superintendent garnered for our district and the community. Well, that is until you go to the MSBA's website and find out that 208 other school boards in the state were also "nominated" for the Missouri School Board Association's "Outstanding School Board Award" at

Once you read the what the requirements are for a school board to be "nomimated", her comments lose quite a bit of luster. The Missouri School Board Association's website has Fox C-6 listed as being "ELIGIBLE TO APPLY" for an award. From reading the MSBA's webpage for the Outstanding Boards of Education Award, I don't believe that the term "nominated" is a very accurate statement. Nominated certainly sounds more impressive and would give the community that warm fuzzy feeling that our school board is doing a great job. But, the community probably still hasn't gotten over the fact that school board member Linda Nash's daughter in law was hired as the Food Nutrition Service Director with only a high school diploma over much more qualified candidates. It also probably still remembers the fact that Gee Palmer the wife of school board member Dave Palmer was promoted to the position of District Head Nurse with a 75% pay raise in 2006 while Mr. Palmer was the school board president.

Also, lets not forget the fact that the school district spent over $3 Million dollars to put in artificial turf on the football fields when there aren't enough books for all of the students in the classrooms. Dianne will refute the fact like she did on channel 5 that there aren't enough books for the kids. And, yes, it is a separate budget. We know that. But, then you would have to ask the teachers at the school buildings and find out why a principal told me that they don't hand out books to all students because there aren't enough to go around. Then there is that transparency issue that has been dogging our school district for several years in trying to keep the check payments and budget from the community and how much they are paying in legal fees to fend off federal agencies.

Where is the 2013-2014 School Year Budget?

Where is the 2013-2014 Salary Schedules for our Administrators?

Is Superintendent Critchlow now the highest paid Superintendent in the state of Missouri?

I recommend taking a look at the MSBA's Oustanding Boards of Education Award webpage. There are 6 different performance category awards that one of the 208 school boards in the state that are "Eligible" can apply for:
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment 
  • Human and Organizational Efficacy 
  • Climate, Culture, and Organizational Efficacy 
  • School Finance Resources 
  • Physical and Environmental Resources 
  • Governance, Leadership and Accountability 

In order to be Eligible to Apply for one of the above awards, a school board must be an MSBA member district, and ALL 7 board members must be certified by the MSBA. The school district must also have scored a 12, 13 or 14 on Missouri DESE's Annual Performance Report (APR) for the current and previous year.

So Fox met the criteria along with another 208 districts out of a little over 500 districts in the state. It's just a matter of putting Superintendent Critchlow's tweet into perspective. It's going to take a bit of effort by the community to install a school board that has Integrity, Honesty and Ethics. Actually, that would be good category for an award. The community's made a start at bringing about change to our school district. But it is up to you to stand up and voice your concerns. Otherwise, our Superintendent will keep sweeping things under the rug until she retires and then it will fall on someone else.

As much as Dianne wants to pump up her status and our school board, the public should know the truth. It's very similar to winning awards for the National District of Character. It's just another award for the school to tout in an attempt to cover up all of the problems within the school district. You should take some time to check out how the Character Education awards are obtained.

Don't be fooled by our superintendent! Our community needs change and it will only begin to happen when the community voices their concerns and asks for change to occur!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Superintendent Dianne Critchlow Earns Accolade of One of The Best "You Paid For It" Confrontations!

Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow is all about touting accolades that our district has earned. Well, recently Superintendent Dianne Critchlow was bestowed the honor of being one of The Best "You Paid for It" Confrontations from Fox 2 News. This accolade demonstrates why Dianne Critchlow earned nearly $250,000 for the 2012-2103 school year to run our district.

Fox 2 News has Dianne Critchlow's confrontation listed as #3 in its list of the Best "You Paid For It" Confrontations!

The original story linked on the news story above references the Nepotism problem at Fox C-6 and the November 2012 hiring of Fox's Food Nutrition Services Director Kelly Nash. Kelly Nash is the daughter in law of current school board member Linda Nash. Linda Nash was the school board president when her daughter in law was hired by the district to a $65,000 Director position. Kelly Nash was hired to the position despite the fact that she only had a high school diploma and didn't have the credentials that the school district had listed for the job posting. Luckily for our community, the Fox C-6 school board is giving Kelly Nash two years to earn her degree and credentials. I wonder how she is doing in earning those credentials?

Below is a link to the original news story:

Please contact your school board members and congratulate them for helping our district earn another accolade! Our superintendent and school board members like to hear how great our school district is doing and you should congratulate them.

If you don't know who your school board members are or don't know how to contact them, you can now find their photos and individual email addresses listed here on the district website:

Congratulations Superintendent Dianne Critchlow for earning another accolade!