Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Superintendent Critchlow to Retire in October 2015!

At the November 19, 2013 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting, Mr. Todd Scott announced that Superintendent Dianne Critchlow would be retiring in October 2015.

Mr. Scott stated that the information was in the late materials presented at the school board meeting that evening.

At the November 19, 2013 board meeting, I made a public comment expressing my concerns to the school board regarding the recent November 5th board workshop in which our school board violated Missouri Sunshine Law by taking an open meeting agenda item that was being discussed into Closed Session.

At the beginning of my public comment, I gave an apology to the board stating that my Tuesday November 19th email was not intended to be a personal attack against anyone. However, Superintendent Critchlow interpreted my email as a personal attack against her and the district. My email presented some areas of concern to the board. Apparently, Superintendent Critchlow does not respond well to anyone who points out areas of concern or provides non-glowing comments about the district.

It's human nature to want to point out the positive. However, at some point in time we must all weigh our obligation to provide a complete disclosure of the facts, imperfect as those facts may be, especially when our employer is the public. Public entities are held to a higher standard of accountability for a reason. Missouri DESE sets that standard and our teachers and administrators work hard to achieve that standard. However, there are areas of concern that deserve attention.

For example, Superintendent Critchlow told the board at the September school board meeting that Fox C-6 had the highest MSIP 5 score out all of those in attendance at meeting of Jefferson County schools. That is as long as you don't count the Festus school district which had a higher score than Fox. Was Festus not in attendance?

Fox's Percentage of Graduates Taking the ACT
Another area of concern which I pointed out in my email is the fact that the Percentage of Graduates taking the ACT test at Fox is only 56% which is relatively low compared to the state average of 75% and to Rockwood and Parkway which each have 96%.

When I point out concerns to our school board, our Superintendent responds with claims that I am making personal attacks against her and the school district. My pointing out of facts are not intended to be a personal attack. Shouldn't these areas of concern be a concern for everyone?

Is it misleading by not providing information to the public or to the school board?

Or is it merely accentuating the positive?

Should our Superintendent provide the public and the board with a complete and accurate picture of our District regarding college admissions testing?

Wouldn't it be more productive if we, as a community, would be given information about our relatively low number of students taking the ACT and simply say, “this is an area in which we need to improve”?

It’s a shame that our Superintendent does not seem to trust the public with all the facts, and only highlights those facts that are positive. Only by recognizing the negative and owning it are we actually able to truly eliminate the concerns.

Superintendent Critchlow responded to my concerns regarding the ACT data with the following statement which she copied to myself and the school board:

Project Lead the way is a goal of the districts and is currently being researched in depth by our career readiness director. We would love for you to come in and discuss this issue. In addition, come in and talk to Dr. Rizzi about your thoughts on ACT. He will provide you with accurate data on the ACT and the Fox school district.
Rather than being concerned with the low number of students taking the ACT, our Superintendent appears to try and discredit my information. If Superintendent salary is based upon school district performance against other districts, one would hope that our school board looks at the complete picture.

You can see a comparison of some of the "facts" and statistics of the Top 25 School Districts in the state ranked by Superintendent Salary to see how Fox compares to those other districts in my previous article here:

School Board Approval of Audit Report for June 30, 2013
A representative from the Daniel Jones and Associates accounting firm presented the annual audit report to the school district for approval. The annual audit done by the Daniel Jones and Associates firm is nowhere near as in depth as when the state auditor reviews a school district like the one recently done for the Rockwood school district.

It should be noted that the audit report was not posted on the district website and it was not included in the school board meeting packets for the public to review.

Not posting the information for the public doesn't give the appearance of being openly transparent. This should raise some red flags for the public. It has been more than 10 years since Fox has had a state audit done. It takes a petition to get a state audit done. So, it's time for Fox C-6 to have a state audit done. It's definitely needed given the lack of oversight from our board over the last 8 or 9 years and given some of the decisions that they have made since that time.

It's also odd that only our superintendent responds to requests to have the school budget and other financial information published on the district website. And, she has refused to publish the school budget and has refused to publish prior years of board meeting packets even though they already exist. Superintendent Critchlow has only given excuses as to why these documents can't be published on the website. Perhaps if more people requested them, the district would realize that it would be much more efficient to publish them on the website rather than individually having to respond to each and every request.

After the representative from the accounting firm presented the report, board president Dan Smith asked if there were any questions. Steve Holloway spoke up and asked that the board be given more time to review the report. Mr. Holloway commented that the audit report was 60 pages long and that they had just received it a week ago and so he would like to defer approving the report to have more time to review it. It was good to see a board member wanting to review an item more in depth. John Laughlin seconded the motion to defer the report instead of just rubber stamping it.

Here is a transcript from this portion of the meeting after the representative said a few words about the report from the Daniel Jones and Associates company:

Dan Smith - Board President 
"Anyone have any questions or comments for the report?"
Cheryl Herman 
"I appreciate you coming. It makes me feel better that someone else on the outside look at the books and look at everything to make sure that it's going like it's supposed to. Thank you." 
Dan Smith  
"Anyone else?" 
Finance Director 
"I would just like to add one thing. He's really summarizing the process. We spend up to 2 or 3 weeks getting information. He's here for about 7 days and um, it just makes it a nice neat document but there's a lot of work that goes into this. We really do appreciate their help on this." 
Dan Smith 
"Anyone else?" 
Steve Holloway 
"So and, hold on. Sorry. So, so we're actually voting to receive this? Like. So, with it being, I mean we've had it for about a week. Is there anyway that we can defer this to vote on it until, uh, next month and maybe talk about this at one of our workshops? Go over what the audit means and some of the details in it and things like that?" 
Superintendent Dianne Critchlow 
"I think it has to. Does it have to be approved by December 31st?" 
Finance Director 
Finance Director 
"We also have to do a federal clearing house submission which is dated at the time. Our time starts once it's approved."
Superintendent Dianne Critchlow 
"So, if they approved it on December 17th, is that enough time?"
Finance Director 
Superintendent Dianne Critchlow 
"We could do this. I know we don't have a workshop planned for December." 
Steve Holloway 
"Oh that's right we don't. I guess we could go. Has, has anybody else had a chance to read this? I mean it's like 60 plus pages. Have you guys read through this?"
At this point Dave Palmer asked a question about the items on Page 14 concerning the fund balances and was responded to to by the district's director of finance filling in for Mark McCutchen.

After Mr. Palmer's question, Board President Dan Smith made the following comment telling the board that they should just go ahead and approve the audit because he looked over the report and it looked fine to him and because the audit company as been doing it for years and years.
Dan Smith - Board President 
"I have had the chance to look over this and, you know, Daniel Jones and Associates have, have done this for us for a number of, number of years. And uh, I mean if the board decides they want to defer this until the next meeting that's fine but. and I said, I've looked over it and it looks, it looks good to me. And, you know that if the numbers look good and like I said, these guys have looked at our district. It's not that their first time in the uh ball game here, with us. So, I mean they have audited us year after year after year. Know our numbers. Know where the numbers are coming from. So, I would, just as soon go ahead and do it tonight but if the, if the board decides they want to defer this till the next meeting."
Steve Holloway 
"I'll make a motion to defer if we want to."
Dan Smith 
"We have a motion to defer until the next meeting. Do we have a second?"
John Laughlin 
"I'll second that."
Dan Smith 
"OK we have a motion and a second. Any comments? Other comments?"
John Laughlin 
"Yeah, I have a comment, there's no specific reason you can't wait till the 17th. I just don't understand why we can't have 30 days to look at it. It just seems pretty easy. No sorts of specific reason for having a (inaudible)."
Linda Nash 
"I would agree with that. I also think that, um, we could even though we don't have a workshop. Uh, if, if as long as we don't find anything obviously we can vote on it on the 17th. But. we can still have it as a topic in a workshop even after it's approved."
Steve Holloway 
"That's true."
Dan Smith 
"Anyone else? OK. We have a motion and a second on the floor. All in favor? (yes) Any opposed? (none) OK. Motion carries."

Jamie Critchlow Is Not A Principal
Another note of interest from the meeting was the introduction of Mr. Jamie Critchlow as the principal of the Bridges program by assistant superintendent Tim Crutchley. According to Missouri DESE records and in speaking with Missouri DESE certification in the past, Mr. Jamie Critchlow has NOT earned an Administrative Certificate to have bestowed upon him the title of school principal. This has been looked into before by Missouri DESE Area Supervisor Dr. Tim Ricker when Jamie Critchlow's email address had the title of Principal of Bridges which was subsequently corrected to the title of Director.

According to Missouri DESE records as of November 20, 2013, Mr. Jamie Critchlow only possesses an INITIAL PC which was issued on January 13, 2011 and expires on January 13, 2015.

Mr. Critchlow took the Praxis tests in 2010 for the following courses to obtain his Initial Professional Certificate in the following two areas of study:

  • Principles of Learning & Teaching (7 - 12)
  • Social Studies: Content Knowledge

This concern was brought to the attention of the Fox C-6 School Board at the December 2010 school board meeting when I asked the school board how an individual had been hired into a director's position without proper certification. Mr. Critchlow was hired as a teacher in September of 2009 and promoted to the Director of Bridges in November 2009. That original promotion after only working for the district for two months raised is salary from in the $30,000 range to $98,569. That was quite a promotion considering he didn't obtain his Initial Professional Certification until January 2011.

Teacher Certification information can be found on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary (DESE) website here where you can personally verify the information: