Thursday, January 23, 2014

There's So Much To Catch Up On at Fox C-6!

A lot has been happening in the Fox C-6 School District since I last had time to write a blog post. My last post was about the announcement that Fox C-6 Superintendent Dianne Critchlow would be retiring in 2015. This was announced at the November 2013 board meeting. Just yesterday the 2014 Fox C-6 School Board candidates were announced by the district. Between all of that time, there have been a few interesting exchanges of emails with the Fox C-6 school board. Well, I wrote to the board, but the board didn't respond. Retiring Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and Fox's new assistant superintendent Andy Arbeitman responded. Superintendent Critchlow has assigned Mr. Arbeitman the task of responding to all school board meeting Public Comments. It's apparently best for the district to respond to questions rather than allow the school board to do so. Certainly paying for another superintendent to handle her communications with the public is a good idea. Ducking and dodging the media just doesn't look good for the district.

The last couple of months have been a very busy time and I found it much quicker to provide information to the community using Twitter: (

So, if you haven't been following my Twitter posts, you've been missing out on a lot of information. PLEASE NOTE: You don't have to have a Twitter account in order to read what gets posted on the Fox C-6 Watchdog's twitter page. All you need to do is click on the link above to go to the Fox C-6 Watchdog's Twitter web page to read the posts.

Recently on the Twitter page I provided some of the documentation that Superintendent Critchlow has been keeping from the public for nearly 5 years. You can obtain these documents from the federal agencies via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It's been nearly 5 years since the district signed a Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR). It's been nearly 4 years since the district was informed it would be undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights which was still open as of last year.

The monitoring letters to the district that are posted on the Twitter feed are a very interesting read. The letters to the district document how after 3 1/2 years our district was still being asked by ED OCR to update their school board policies and regulations as well as student handbooks to comply with Federal Law. Three and a half years seems like an awfully long time to update some documentation. But, then again, it's been nearly 2 years since Superintendent Critchlow informed the public at the March 2012 school board meeting that the district published the "draft" of the updated board policies and regulations for review. Those documents have yet to be approved and adopted by our school board.

There are also links to letters from the USDA to the district informing them in August 2011 that Fox C-6 and Missouri DESE were found non-compliant with Federal law and USDA Guidelines and Regulations. At the time, Superintendent Critchlow forwarded the letter to the board. She informed them that the district attorney found some mistakes in the USDA's Final Agency Decision. The district's attorney filed an appeal letter with the USDA but their appeal was denied. That's why they call it a Final Agency Decision. But, it did give the district another year long delay in having to respond to the USDA.

It took more than 2 years for the district to finally comply with the USDA Final Agency Decision. Surprisingly though, after the USDA accepted the district's documentation in September 2013 and closed the complaint, the district changed the documentation. When the National Director of the USDA's Office for Civil Rights (USDA OCR) found out about the change, he contacted and questioned the district about that change. Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker informed the USDA OCR National Director and the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) via email that the updated documentation was sent out by mistake by the district. Mr. Baker told them that the district had "two different working documents" and that "with all the communication that was going on between the different parties, the incorrect version was mistakenly sent". Really? Sounds believable doesn't it?

Apparently, the USDA OCR National Director took Mr. Baker's explanation for changing the documentation after the fact as a way of trying to "subvert" the complaint process. Does changing documentation after the fact, make you question the ethics of our school district leadership? How much effort and risk are they willing to take to get around the law?

Mr. Baker originally offered to answer questions regarding the changes to the documentation. However, after being contacted by USDA OCR, Mr. Baker responded to USDA OCR, the USDOJ and the school board stating that, "upon the advice of legal counsel the District will no longer respond in writing to your inquiries. If you would like to discuss these matters, please contact me at 636.296.8000 to schedule an appointment so that the appropriate people can be made available to answer your questions.  Thank you. " It's certainly an interesting response given the fact that the district has been doing everything "above board" for years.

As taxpayers, it's good to know that our district is being advised by district attorneys paid by taxpayer dollars on these matters. The district attorney and Mr. Baker have both spoken with the USDA OCR National Director on this matter. It's interesting to note that the National Director of the USDA OCR is an attorney as well. Interesting, isn't it?

So check out those documents and other tidbits of information on the Fox C-6 Watchdogs Twitter page.

2014 Fox C-6 School Board Election

School board elections are just around the corner and candidate names were released yesterday by the school district.

Below are the 2014 Fox C-6 School Board Candidates for the April election:
Vernon Sullivan
John Laughlin (I)
Mark Jones
Chris Hastings
Dawn Mullins
Robert (Bob) Gruenewald

Notably missing from this list of candidates is Linda Nash and Dave Palmer. They both have had family members promoted to high paid positions within the district while they were school board presidents. I'm glad to see that they aren't running for school board again. I'm sure it was a win-win for Linda Nash and Dave Palmer as well as Superintendent Critchlow while Mrs. Nash and Mr. Palmer were on the school board. It wasn't so much of a win for taxpayers though. Linda Nash's daughter-in-law was hired as the Food Nutrition Services Director to a $65,000 per year job in 2012. She didn't even have the education or credentials that the district was looking for. Luckily the district is giving her 2 years to obtain her degree in Food Nutrition. The only problem is that the degree is a 4+ year program. So, that's not going to happen.

Dave Palmer's wife Gee Palmer was promoted to the District Head Nurse position in 2006 and was given a 75% pay increase for an extra 3 months of work per year on her contract. The hiring of board president's family members were smart moves by Superintendent Critchlow. There's a good chance that Critchlow got some "brownie points" for those decisions. I'm certain Superintendent Critchlow recommended those hires because she was doing "What's best for the kids!".

Dave Palmer's wife was promoted at the end of Superintendent Critchlow's first year as the Fox C-6 Superintendent when he was the board president. Everyone in the community is now very aware that Superintendent Critchlow's salary has sky rocketed since her first year as superintendent. In 2006, she only made $137,589. For the 2013-2014 school year her salary is $256,131. I've discussed her salary issues before in the articles below.

Also check out my August 2012 article on Superintendent Critchlow's salary here:

2014 Is An Important School Board Election

The 2014 school board election will be a very important election for our community. The next Fox C-6 School Board will be responsible for finding and choosing our next Superintendent. Our community, parents, teachers and school staff certainly deserve much better than what it has endured for the last 9 years. It's the community's responsibility to make sure that your school board listens to you. Currently the school board has been told to pretty much keep quite. They don't respond to letters, emails or Public Comments. When a Superintendent instructs school board members not to speak to individuals in the community and sends out Cease and Desist Letters, you know there is a problem. It's easy to understand why she doesn't want the board to get the full picture of what's been going on behind the scenes in our district. The behind the scenes don't look as incredible as she portrays them to be. So, keeping the information from the school board  and the public is important for her reputation. So, if you don't want more of the same, contact your school board.

It's all about public perception!

If Superintendent Critchlow says things are great, they must be! Right?

Superintendent Critchlow has taken the approach of keeping information out of board meeting minutes, board packets and Public Comments. Her explanation as to why things aren't documented with details as to what people's "concerns within the district" are is because state law doesn't require the district document things verbatim from Public Comments. I've written about this problem many times over the last several years. Since you don't hear about any problems there mustn't be any? Right?

The same problem applies to leaving letters and emails addressed to the Fox C-6 School Board out of board meeting packets that ask questions of the board and provide documentation to the board on issues that should be looked into by the board. For some reason those documents don't get included in the board packets even after writing and asking the board secretary to include them. However, letters of praise for Superintendent Critchlow can be found in the school board packets. The letters of praise seem to have a common theme among them. They sound as if they were written by a superintendent. Certainly it's just a coincidence!

The January 2014 school board packet included one such letter to Superintendent Critchlow. The author of the letter stated that 99.9% of the citizens in our district "are very pleased with everything".

99.9% seems maybe a little high for the percentage of people in our community that are happy about paying Superintendent Critchlow $256,131 per year. I wonder where she got her facts and figures?

You can read the letter to Superintendent Critchlow dated December 16, 2013 here:

It's pretty entertaining at times to watch how our district leadership conducts business. I know that the letter to Superintendent Critchlow also said that, "Fox has always been very fiscally responsible and not one to just "jump on the bandwagon" of any new educational approach." So, I'm glad the author of the letter reassured us with her statements on fiscal responsibility. I wasn't so sure of that when I found out at the March 2013 board meeting that the district was going to have to spend an additional $52,000 to build a storage building at Fox High School to store the equipment that used to get stored under the old bleachers. District administrators didn't realize that the new bleachers didn't have any storage space below them because of the truss design. Luckily the district was able to sell the old bleachers to another school district for $30,000 to help offset the cost of the new $320,000 bleachers and the $52,000 storage building. You can read more about that in my March 2013 post here:

Please Vote April 2nd and Make A Positive Change
In Our District

For the latest information on what's happening in the Fox C-6 District that Superintendent Critchlow doesn't want you to know, follow Fox C-6 Watchdogs on Twitter ( or check out the Fox C-6 Watchdogs blog right here (