Monday, September 15, 2014

Looking Back In Time - State Audit Begins Today of the Fox C-6 School District!

The state audit begins today for the Fox C-6 School District. The state auditors will be looking back in time at school district records to review what's gone on in the district over the last several years. Hopefully the auditors will be reviewing some records as far back as the 2005-2006 school year when Dianne Brown-Critchlow began her tenure as the Superintendent of the Fox C-6 School District considering what's been uncovered in the last month or two regarding credit card purchases, trips to conferences and having district property in her personal possession.

The state auditor can also look at teacher and administrator certifications as well. There have been a number of people employed by the district over the years that didn't have the proper certification for the job that they were hired for. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the school board wasn't necessarily being provided with much information about the recommended promotions or new hires from former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow.

Last month was a perfect example of this when it wasn't pointed out very well to the board that school board member Cheryl Hermann's daughter was being hired for a position in the district. This lead to a special meeting in which the board re-voted and rescinded their vote to approve the hire. It wasn't a matter of qualifications. It was a lack of transparency.

Getting The Board On Your Side
How is it that things have gotten so bad and out of control over the last 10 years?

A school district superintendent is supposed to work closely with the school board. But, sometimes the relationship between the school board and the school district superintendent gets a little too cozy which usually leads to a lack of oversight which is what I believe happened at Fox.

There's no doubt that former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow wanted to have a good working relationship with the Fox C-6 Board of Education. She was a fellow Fox C-6 graduate and alumni. During her first year as the Fox C-6 superintendent she promoted Gee Palmer to the district head nurse. Gee Palmer is the wife of current Fox C-6 school board Vice-President Dave Palmer.

However, in June 2006, Dave Palmer was the Fox C-6 school board President. There were at least 10 nurses working in the school district that had more years of service than Gee Palmer. Some of those nurses had nearly double the number of years of service or more. But, somehow, Gee Palmer was chosen for the job over those other nurses. Do you think it had anything to do with the fact that Dave Palmer was the school board president at the time?

I mention this because Dave Palmer spoke about nepotism at the last Special School Board Meeting regarding the hiring of Cheryl Hermann's daughter as a Teacher's Aide in the district for $9.87 an hour. The right thing to do would have been for Cheryl Hermann to step down from the school board so her daughter could work for the district. The community wouldn't have had a problem with that based on comments from most of the people I've spoken to. However, hearing Dave Palmer talk to the community about nepotism knowing full well that his wife has been paid 75% more than the other nurses in the district for the last 8 years just didn't sound right.

Gee Palmer's promotion in June 2006 came with a 75% increase in pay. Her contract was lengthened by 2 months. Adding two months to her contract shouldn't have resulted in a 75% pay increase. That was a pretty sweet deal back then for the school board President's wife. That's why listening to Mr. Palmer speak at the last school board meeting about nepotism and the hiring of Cheryl Hermann's daughter just seemed so wrong. But, most of the general public doesn't know about the things that have gone on the past and how much the Palmer's have benefited over the last 8 years with that 75% increase in pay. From what I understand, previous district head nurses were paid at the normal rate on the pay scale since their contract was not any longer than any other nurse. If anyone knows that this was different, please let me know so I can update this article.

Would your decisions as a school board member or school board president be swayed if your wife was given a 75% increase in pay?

It's been nearly 4 years since I first posted on this blog concerning issues in the Fox C-6 School District. You can read about my early attempts to get Fox to become more transparent by reading some of the very earliest posts on the FoxC6Watchdogs blog. This was well before the Internet scandal broke earlier this year.

Asking our school board questions or asking them to make changes was truly like speaking to a brick wall back in 2010. My speaking at the December 2010 school board meeting is what lead to many of the slanderous posts being made online in 2010 and 2011. Cheryl Hermann was the school board president at the time and nothing was done back then. That's when the board was definitely ignoring my requests for information or help in stopping the online posts. No one on the board wanted to listen or act on things. They chose to be Willfully Blind!

However, the Fox C-6 school board has changed dramatically since 2010. Five of seven school board members have been replaced since then and I doubt very much that the two remaining school board members (Cheryl Hermann and Dave Palmer) would get re-elected in April 2015 if they decided to run again.

I ask that you read my early articles on this blog to get an understanding about how long it's taken to try and get things turned around and heading in the right direction. I'm certainly glad that more people are paying attention now and that things are beginning to move in a positive direction for both the teachers and staff in the district as well as the community and the students. Improving morale in the district can go a long way towards improving the district's overall success.

Below are links to the 2nd and 3rd articles that I wrote back in July and August 2012. Hopefully they can shed a bit of light as to why it's taken so long to get things changed at Fox. Of course it would have helped quite a bit if the public knew what was going on at school board meetings had former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow been more forthcoming with information in the board meeting minutes about what was being asked at the school board meetings.

My 2nd article posted on the blog was what started the ball rolling for Superintendent Critchlow to send me a Cease and Desist Letter. My article was written explaining my reasons why I thought that Fox C-6 taxpayers should vote no on the $18.5 Million Dollar Bond Issue in August 2012. My concerns about the bond issue wasn't about the bond issue itself, it was about what the money was going to be spent on and the fact that the district wasn't being very transparent with the community about where a large chunk of that money was being spent.

Now, the state auditor will be reviewing how the monies were spent after Fox's new CFO John Brazeal discovered that some of the Bond Issue money may have been used to pay down deficits. This may explain why only $16 Million dollars of the Bond Issue was listed in the Bond Issue budget back then which was promptly removed from the district website after the bond issue passed.

I'll need to find the original bond issue budget and post a link to it on this article as soon as I get the chance.

You may wish to read all of my articles from August 2012 to get a better understanding of what was going on and being researched back then.