Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Waiting for Information!

    I've made quite a few Sunshine requests and submitted questions to the district over the last several weeks in an effort to get the public the information everyone's been asking about. They want to know what's been going on in the district for the last decade.

    I realize that the audit started last week so the accounting staff and CFO are probably very busy looking up information for the auditors.

    For years there was very little information flow to the public outside of the school board meeting minutes. The board meeting minutes contained very little information especially with regard to Public Comments. So nearly everyone was kept in the dark about what was actually occurring in the district.

    As soon as I get the information I'll get it posted. Some of the information I've requested is:

  • Credit card statements for Discover, VISA and American Express dating back to the 2005-2006 school year. I've been waiting for the Discover card statements for several weeks. The Discover cards for both the board secretary and the central office custodian were used often by former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow.
  • Receipts for purchases made by former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow using her district credit cards. This request had already been made by her attorney.
  • More information regarding the Orlando trip such as how many cars were rented for the 3 day conference. $1700+ dollars in car rental fees is a lot of money for a 3 day conference.
  • Information about the Flip Flippen training. The district paid $10,000 at the start of the 2013-2014 school year for an hour long keynote address. When I asked about it at the August 2013 school board meeting assistant superintendent Andy Arbeitman told me that 9 administrators were able to attend Flip Flippen training for FREE for that $10,000 hour long keynote address. So I've asked questions as to who attended the training. The district ended up spending more than $62,000 with the Flip Flippen training company in 2013-2014.
  • Who attended the trips to Rochester, NY, Kansas City, MO and Washington, D.C.?
  • How much was the stipend amount was that was paid to previous head nurses in the district compared to the 75% pay raise that Gee Palmer received when she was promoted to district head nurse in June 2006?
  • Salary information for our district head nurse. When Fox's current district head nurse Gee Palmer was  promoted to the district head nurse position she was given a 75% pay raise in June 2006. Gee Palmer is the wife of current Fox C-6 school board vice-president Dave Palmer. Mr. Palmer was the board president in June 2006 when his wife was promoted by Dianne Brown to the district head nurse position.
  • All invoices from the district's former law firm dating back to the 2008-2009 school year. This was the law firm that sent out the Cease and Desist letters to myself and others. We don't know how many may have been sent over the years but we know of at least 4 of them.

For your information, per Missouri Sunshine Law, anyone can go to the Fox C-6 Central Office during normal business hours and request to view documents such as board meeting minutes, board packets, invoices, etc.

Hopefully I'll receive the credit card data soon so I can get that information posted for the public. Everyone is very curious as to how far back all of this spending without oversight has gone on.

It was stated on the news recently in a Fox 2 News You Paid For It report that the board approved all of Critchlow's credit card charges. The payments to the credit card companies may have been approved. But the individual charges weren't approved by the board since the credit card statements weren't being provided to them in their board packets. It was the board's responsibility to be checking the charges but they weren't being provided that information. It was the superintendent's job to ensure that charges were being properly made by employees in the district prior to asking the board to approve the payments.

I had asked Critchlow to provide the credit card statements in the board packets to the board members and she did not. However, after reviewing the credit card statements it's pretty easy to see why Critchlow didn't want the school board members to see them.

Hopefully more data will be made available soon so it can be shared with the community. 

Transparency is what allows people to trust an organization such as your school district which everyone has trusted for years but has now learned that it was a big mistake to trust as much as we did.

Here's a really good book about trust that I recommend. It's called Liars and Outliers. It explains how trust is needed in order for an organization to thrive and succeed. If there is no trust, the organization will wither and die. It also explains how societal pressure is needed to ensure that people do follow the rules and do the right thing.