Monday, November 18, 2013

The Fox C-6 School Board Fails The Public Again!

On Friday November 15, 2013, I emailed Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and Fox C-6 school board to ask if the school board was still planning on hosting the open discussion session with the public prior to the November 19, 2013 board meeting like they do in the Rockwood school district.

I sent my email as a reply to Superintendent Critchlow's October 4, 2013 email in which she told me that the Fox C-6 school board would begin hosting listening sessions beginning in November before each board meeting (see email below).
Mr. Simpson. 
I did take your suggestions to the board on the workshop Tuesday evening.  I copied and pasted the info from Rockwood’s website that you provided. The board is going to host listening sessions beginning in November before each board meeting. 
Have a great day! 
I sent my November 15th email to the board after reading the November 5th board workshop / meeting minutes that were included on page 38 of the November 19th board meeting packet. The board meeting packet was posted on the district's website on Tuesday November 12th. From the workshop minutes, it appeared as if the district was no longer planning on hosting listening sessions with the community. 

So, I sent the following email to the Fox C-6 school board and Superintendent Critchlow on Friday November 15th:
Does the school board still plan on hosting a listening session at the November 19th board meeting like you stated they would in your email below?

If not, then when was it decided that they would not be hosting one?

Thank you,

Rich Simpson

Here is the response I received within a couple of hours from Superintendent Critchlow regarding the school district's decision on hosting public discussions with the school board:
Mr. Simpson, 
I believe that you were at the workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 5th when this was discussed.

After further discussion and advice from the attorney, the district will not be hosting listening posts.

You are welcome to continue making your public comments as explained in the last email you sent.

Have a wonderful weekend.  Enjoy this great weather with your family before winter strikes.


So, the Fox C-6 school board is now unwilling to provide the same type of open communication with the public as they are now providing the public in the Rockwood school district.

The Fox C-6 community should be extremely concerned with the fact that our school board doesn't respond to emails and that they don't respond to Public Comments at board meetings contrary to what Superintendent Critchlow stated at the board workshop. The public is currently allowed 3 minutes to speak to the board at a school board meeting. Superintendent Critchlow told the board at the November 5th workshop that "every single person that's made a comment has received feedback" is NOT a true statement.

Furthermore, the community should be even more concerned with the fact that our school board violated Missouri Sunshine Law by taking the public discussion about Board Meetings into Closed Session at the November 5th board workshop at the suggestion of school district attorney Ernie Trakas as documented by Superintendent Critchlow's email to me on November 15th. Mr. Trakas did so after board president Dan Smith suggested that maybe the school board could respond to the public at the next school board meeting. Mr. Smith made this suggestion shortly after Superintendent Critchlow had just finished telling the school board that she has always provided feedback to every single person who has made Public Comments within a week as documented in our board policies. Mr. Smith's statements were a direct contradiction of what Superintendent Critchlow just stated otherwise there would be no reason to respond to the public at the next meeting.

The two newest board members may not know that Superintendent Critchlow's statement wasn't true regarding always responding to the public within a week. However, the other board members know that it's not true as they've received numerous emails from me over the past several years requesting responses from them after I've spoken at school board meetings. I never received a response from them. Even recently, I had to send another email asking that if Mr. Smith would not respond to my emails if another board member could and Cheryl Herman responded to let me know she received it. Mr. Smith has never replied to my emails.

I have emailed the board sometimes weeks and months after asking questions of the board and still no one on the board responded. Occasionally, Superintendent Critchlow would respond to some of the questions. However, she was very selective on what she responded to. The questions that I asked were directed to our school board and not our superintendent. The school board is elected to represent the public, not the superintendent.

This is the very reason that it is time for our community to speak up and start asking our school board questions and demand that they start looking for a new superintendent who can tell the truth and is willing to be transparent and open with the community. Right now Superintendent Critchlow is running our school district and our school board. The school board is supposed to hold our superintendent accountable for her actions and they are not doing their job.

I certainly hope that everyone in our community contacts our school board members and asks them why they violated Missouri Sunshine Law and why they are unwilling as a whole to host open discussions with the community.

Mr. John Laughlin, Mr. Steve Holloway and Ms. Cheryl Herman appear to be willing to speak with the community openly after listening to them speak at the November 5th board workshop. However, I don't believe that Mr. Dave Palmer, Mr. Dan Smith, Ms. Linda Nash or Mr. Dan Kroupa share the same sentiment based upon their comments at the workshop.

Below is an excerpt of the transcript from my audio recording of the November 5th workshop from when Mr. Dave Palmer spoke at the board workshop. These were his comments right after school district attorney Ernie Trakas told the board that he felt that community listening times were a bad idea.
Dave Palmer - Board Vice President
"I can tell you going to the MSBA meeting. They uh, when we were up there and we were doing the votes. They only allow 3 minutes. That's what they uh, recommend. They don't. They don't change it. Uh, I can tell you that there was plenty of times when the people that were trying to articulate their thoughts across appropriately stated and it worked. Uh, I agree with Ernie. I just think for (inaudible) purposes, it's not to the board's and the school district's benefit. If somebody wants to talk to you, let them talk to you. But, even then you need to be careful, I believe what you're talking about because you never know what subject you're broaching and I'm not sayin people will do this but there's always gonna be somebody out there that might possibly be upset enough to take somebody personally to court over something they stated. 
Uh. And I don't think, you, or me, or us as a board should put the district in that position. That's just my candid thoughts. It's not that I don't want to hear people. I'll listen to em. I'm probably not going to respond to em. I'm thinking about what they say. But I'm not gonna to take the chance on them saying "He said this" and it gettin twisted. I'm not doin it. I grew up with a brother that's a judge. I'm not doin it."
Dan Smith - Board President"OK. So, I would take it, uh, Dave, uh, that you were leaning towards not doing this at this time."
Dave Palmer - Board Vice President 
"Yeah I mean, I just. If they want to talk to me personally, I'll listen to em. I think we should. I think we owe that to them. I'm just sayin if you listen to somebody be careful what you say to em. How you respond. I pretty much when I listen to somebody on certain subjects, I'm pretty much closed lip. Not because I'm afraid, cause I don't want anything to get misconstrued, even accidentally. Not that somebody's going to do it on purpose. Maybe I misstated. You know misstate something that I've, it's possible, you know. If I'm not answerin, I didn't say it. You know and then I can take everything they said; all the information I can get from you guys and administration and I can come to a better decision at that point."