Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why Doesn't Fox C-6 Want YOU To Record Your Phone Calls with the District?

Never mind that some Fox C-6 administrators have recorded phone calls without informing the other party. The District just doesn't want YOU recording your phone calls with the district.

So for some Fox C-6 administrators, it's do as I say, not as I do!

According to school district policy, the district also doesn't want YOU recording IEP or Section 504 meetings concerning your own children. Why is that?

Well, the following conversation between an advocacy group and Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker and one of the school district's attorneys will provide you with some of the reasons why the school district doesn't want YOU to record phone calls with the district or IEP or Section 504 meetings for that matter.

I asked the advocacy group that recorded the start of their call if I could publish their audio recording because I thought it was important for the public to hear. They gave me their permission in hopes that it would help educate the public and the Fox C-6 community as to how our district conducts business.

So, did you know that "Tape recordings are notoriously unreliable."?

Did you also know that "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record."?

That's why YOU shouldn't be recording meetings and phone calls. Again, never mind if some district administrators record their phone calls.

As a parent, why would you want to record your phone calls or meetings with the district?

You're probably aware of all of the laws and policies regarding IDEA or Section 504 that apply to your child. If you don't know, the school district and/or one of their attorneys will provide you with that information during your meeting or phone call. You'll have no problem remembering all of them after your call. Right?

Should you need to review what was said during your meeting?

Perhaps you might want to look up some of the jargon and laws discussed during your meeting. Or, you might want to verify the district's documentation of what they say occurred during your IEP or Section 504 meeting or phone conversation just to make sure that it accurately reflects what was said and agreed upon at the meeting. Without an audio recording, you can't do that. It will then be your word, against the district's word.

Who do you think our school board will agree with if you take your matter to the school board?

That's why I always recommend recording school board meetings, phone calls and Section 504 meetings before the district changes their policy for Section 504 meetings.

Why Audio Recording School Board Meetings Is Important
For a good example of how well the district documents meetings, just read Fox's school board meeting minutes for Public Comments. Public Comments are documented by the school board secretary who just happens to be Superintendent Critchlow's secretary/administrative assistant as well.

School board meeting minutes of Public Comments don't have any real detail in them unless they are from someone praising the district. Otherwise, the minutes are documented something like the following, "Concerns within the district." or "commented on board meeting minutes" or "commented on school calendar", etc.

Apparently, the public doesn't need the details of what was said. They just need to know who said it and that something was said. According to a September 17, 2013 email from Dianne Critchlow responding to my comments and questions email to the school board, she stated that:
"Per MSBA council, minutes are not verbatim, it is merely an account of the meeting through the board secretaries eyes."
Critchlow's response above easily explains why board meetings are documented as they are. Since Debby Davis, the school board secretary, is also Dianne Critchlow's administrative assistant, it makes it very convenient to filter out what the "board secretary" saw during the meeting. And, since the district hasn't been audio or video recording school board meetings, it's very easy to document the meeting as desired with no proof of what actually occurred during the meeting other than, "an account of the meeting through the board secretaries eyes".

It's too bad that Fox's school board meetings aren't audio or video recorded like they do in other school districts. I've been requesting that Fox audio record school board meetings for years. Fox used to audio record board meetings. They just don't do it anymore. Just like the district doesn't provide payment descriptions anymore in their bill payments like they used to do.

In that same email September 17, 2013, Critchlow explained the following history of audio recording Fox C-6 school board meetings. First, it should be noted that Dianne Brown (Critchlow) took over as superintendent of the Fox C-6 School District on July 1, 2005.  The last time that a Fox C-6 board meeting was recorded was June 2005 as noted in her September 17, 2013 email:
"The board meetings were recorded in 1996. Then it stopped, reason unknown. It began again in 2001. The last recording was June 2005 per the direction of the Superintendent Jim Chellew. 
As far as videotaping the board meetings, the district has never accomplished this task due to the small technology staff. It would be up to the board as a whole, if they wish to do so. I do believe this was explained to you when it was first asked."
The reason that the audio recordings began again in 2001 was because my father was on the school board and he made sure the board meetings were audio recorded like he did when he was assistant superintendent for the district. My father said that he recorded the board meetings because if there was any question as to what occurred at the meeting, they could pull out the audio recording and confirm what was discussed. He said that they kept the audio recordings of board meetings for one year. My father served on the board for only one year replacing Ron Clark from April 2001 until April 2002.

So, is it just a coincidence that the recording of school board meetings stopped when Dianne Brown (Critchlow) became superintendent of Fox C-6?

Or, did Critchlow simply forget to record the board meetings for the next 9 years?

Or, did the school board forget to remind Critchlow to record them?

By not audio recording board meetings, Critchlow was able to document board meeting minutes as desired with nothing to verify what was discussed other than what the board secretary noted during the meeting. Note that the school board secretary was also Critchlow's administrative assistant.

Board meeting minutes were intentionally left vague. I asked to have them updated several times to included more details but was rebuffed by Critchlow. It was quite obvious that the community was being kept in the dark and had no way of knowing what was brought to the attention of the school board during Public Comments. Thus, making it very easy to hide citizens concerns from the community.

You would think that with the $22 Million Dollar that the district received from the passage of the No Tax Increase Bond Issue in 2012, that the district would be able to afford a few thousand dollars to install what was needed to audio or video record school board meetings. The City of Arnold and the Jefferson County council does it as a service to the public.

I can assure you that Critchlow was not clambering to audio or video record board meetings. I used my audio recordings of board meetings to contradict Critchlow's email responses of what she said occurred at the board meetings. That's why there has been so much resistance to recording the meetings.

Back to Recording Phone Calls
Getting back to what the district attorney had to say about recording the phone call. The district attorney gave several reasons why she didn't want the advocacy group to record their phone call. Some of her reasons seemed rather odd given the fact that Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker recorded a phone call and submitted it as an exhibit during our Due Process Hearing with the district.

This was the same attorney that told the advocacy group that, "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record." So, how could Mr. Baker record a phone call if the attorney said, "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record."? It's all a bit confusing isn't it?

The advocacy group that provided me the recording had contacted me prior to their conference call with the district, that had occurred several years ago to see if I had any pointers for them knowing that I had been dealing with the district for a few years. My recommendation to them was to record their phone call because what the district documents won't necessarily match what was discussed during their call. I told them that Missouri is a "One Party Consent" state and that they DID NOT have to inform the district that they were recording the call because they were a party to the conversation. Mr. Baker didn't inform the caller when he record his call.

The Phone Call
If you listened to the call above, you hear the advocacy group tell the district that they may want to record the teleconference if it was alright with everyone. That's when the attorney said, "No it is not." The attorney then asked Mr. Baker if the district's policies prohibit or allow such recordings. After the attorney gave several reasons as to why she didn't want them recording, she said, "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record." That's when the advocacy group stopped their recording.

To listen to the recording click on the link below:

How are "Tape recordings notoriously unreliable"?
Reporters use tape or digital recordings all the time to get statements from politicians and witnesses and when conducting interviews. Perhaps the attorney meant that "tape recordings" are unreliable because the tape could reach the end and stop while in the middle of a recording. I'm not sure. Certainly stopping in the middle of a recording would make them unreliable. But how many people use actual "tape" recorders today?

I don't believe that the district's attorney was trying to give any real reasons as to why tape recordings are unreliable. I believe she was just throwing out reasons hoping that one of them would stick and keep them from recording the phone call. From the pause in the conversation, it seems that when the attorney told them that, "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record." that they decided that they better not record because it may be against the law.

I'm not sure what kind of recording device Mr. Baker used when he recorded his phone call. But, Mr. Baker and the district's attorney found his recording reliable enough to submit it as an exhibit in our Due Process Hearing. But, wait, if "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record.", why would Mr. Baker do something that he wasn't allowed to do?

Why would the same attorney be OK with Mr. Baker doing something that she told the advocacy group that, "There's no law that would give you the right to tape record."?

Perhaps at Fox, it's do as I say not as I do!

By telling people that they can't record, it makes it easier for the district to keep anyone from being able to refute the district's documentation or question them on what was discussed or agreed upon during a phone call or a meeting. You never know when something might be said about a law, regulation or policy that might not be completely accurate.

Just so you know, Missouri is what is known as a "One Party Consent" state when it comes comes to recording telephone conversations. You can read more about Missouri's Recording Law here: (

According to Missouri law, Mr. Baker did not have to inform the other party that he was recording their phone conversation because he was a party to the call. Therefore, Mr. Baker didn't break any laws by not informing them that he was recording their call. It makes you question the ethics of some of our school district leaders when you hear about things like this. happening

District leadership is always reminding everyone, everywhere, that Fox is a National District of Character.

Is this leadership by example?