Saturday, February 28, 2015

Another Cash Give Away of Fox C-6 Taxpayer Dollars!

On Friday February 27, 2015, it was reported in the Post Dispatch that the Fox C-6 school board voted 6-0 at this week's board meeting to approve the termination agreement with former Fox C-6 School Food Nutrition Director Kelly Nash.

Kelly Nash was the daughter in law of former long time Fox C-6 school board member Linda Nash. Linda Nash was the board president when her daughter in law Kelly Nash was hired as the Food Nutrition Director.

According to the Post Dispatch article, Kelly Nash is leaving with a settlement that will pay her more than $20,000 after being employed by the district for just over two years. According to the article Kelly Nash's employment was "terminated" on January 31, 2015. She was placed on paid administrative leave on December 31, 2014. Kelly Nash's salary was $63,621.

Kelly Nash should not have been given any settlement money. However, since Kelly Nash's employment contract did not contain any language specifying that she had to obtain her certification within 2 years, the district and Fox C-6 taxpayers were on the hook. The public was told in December 2012 that she would have to obtain her certification with 2 years as Fox's Food Nutrition Director. Not stipulating that in her contract was a mistake that should not have happened.

I wrote about this problem in December 2014 in the following article:

It's very apparent that Kelly Nash did not obtain her certification as required even though Tim Crutchley says he can't comment on whether or not she obtained her certification due to "privacy rules". This has been another costly lesson for Fox C-6 taxpayers due to a lack of board oversight. It's just another example of how easy it has been to cover things up for years and keep handing out cash for those types of mistakes. Just think about how many books could have been purchased over the past year for all that money that's been handed out.

Transparency is key to rebuilding the trust of the community. This fiasco was a big step backwards in rebuilding trust in the community. The board needs to ensure that job candidates for administrator and director positions are listed in board meeting minutes in order to remove the secrecy of what goes in Closed Session.

Terms of Kelly Nash's Settlement Agreement
  • Kelly Nash will be paid a $20,000 settlement.
  • Kelly Nash will be paid $105 for two unused sick days.
  • Kelly Nash will be paid $1,967 for eight vacation days.
  • Kelly Nash will be paid $403 per month until her contract expiration date of June 30, 2015.
  • Kelly Nash agrees not to sue the school district.
  • Settlement prohibits school board members and acting superintendent Tim Crutchley and CFO John Brazeal from making derogatory comments about Kelly Nash.
  • Kelly Nash is prohibited from making derogatory comments about the district.
  • Agreement states that Kelly Nash was not terminated for misconduct allowing her to obtain unemployment benefits.
  • Kelly Nash agrees to never apply for another job in the district.

FNS Non-Compliance with Section 504 and ADA AA
In August 2011, Fox C-6 was found non-complaint with Section 504 law and the ADA AA by the USDA Food Nutrition Services division. The district was told to immediately reinstate a Section 504 plan that had been removed in September 2008. The district with the help of the district's former law firm fought the August 2011 ruling for nearly 3 years.

After the December 2011 Fox C-6 school board meeting, former 504 Coordinator Dan Baker told me that the district had filed an appeal with the USDA to the August 2011 ruling. The district had discussions with the USDA regarding the ruling in July through September 2012. In August 2013, the district was informed that their appeal was denied.

It wasn't until after the internet scandal broke and Dan Baker was removed from his position as the Section 504 Coordinator and the district hired a new law firm that the district reinstated the Section 504 plan that was removed in September 2008.

Food Nutrition Directors and Section 504 Coordinators agree every year to follow the USDA's Guidelines and Regulations in exchange for receiving federal funding for the National School Lunch Program. One of those guidelines is the USDA's Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs - A Guide for Food Service Directors document.

It was the job of Fox's former Food Nutrition Directors Candy Sengheiser-Gruenewald and Kelly Nash as well as Fox's former Section 504 Coordinator Dan Baker to comply with Section 504 law and the ADA and ADA AA.

It took the district 3 years after being found non-compliant with federal law to issue Section 504 plans for students with special dietary needs. It took 6 years of effort to have the district reissue the Section 504 Plan that was originally taken away in September 2008.

Training Does Not Follow Section 504 Law
It was September 2008 when I informed the USDA's Office for Civil Rights Regional Director about a video presentation and power point slides that I had found using Google on a Missouri law firm's website that appeared to be providing incorrect information about Section 504 law. The video was recorded at the 2005 Annual School Law Seminar. It was titled "Controlling the Explosion in Section 504 Lawsuits: Allergic Reaction to Peanut Product Suits".

The presentation stated that school districts should not provide Section 504 plans to students with food allergies even if they were qualified for one because,"It may lead to a slippery slope making it more difficult to deny protection to others". The reason listed in their presentation didn't seem like a very good reason for not writing a Section 504 plan. The Regional Director informed me that the statements in the presentation did not follow Section 504 law and she wanted to forward the presentation to the national office so they could deal with it on a national level.

Video and Presentation Leads to Statewide Training
A link to the video presentation and power point slides was forwarded to the regional director of the USDA's Office for Civil Rights who forwarded it to the Washington D.C. office in 2008. The video presentation and slides were the subject of a presentation by the regional director in Colorado in 2008. It also led to state wide training in 2009 for the state of Missouri's school nutrition directors in Jefferson City. No one from Fox attended that training according to the regional director.

It's difficult to imagine the amount of legal fees spent by the Fox C-6 school district between 2008 and 2014 in order to keep from writing Section 504 plans for students with special dietary needs.

In August 2013, the National Director of the USDA's Office for Civil Rights in Washington D.C. told me that it was unlikely that the law firm would change its stance on Section 504 and accommodating children with special dietary needs after billing the district for years defending their position. It wasn't until after Fox C-6 changed law firms in 2014 that Section 504 plans were written for children with special dietary needs.

Trying to get the district to do the right thing led to the uncovering of many more issues going on in our school district that would have never come to light if there hadn't been so much push back and retaliation by former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow and assistant superintendent Dan Baker.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Educational! St. Joseph School Board Members Reflect on Audit Findings and More!

If you're not already following Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich's tweets about the St. Joseph School District audit results that were released to the public on Tuesday February 17, 2015, you should be.

Our state auditor's office has been posting links to many of the news stories that have been posted online as a result of the SJSD state audit. You can read State Auditor Schweich's tweets using the following link:

Reading the news stories pouring out about the results of the SJSD state audit are very educational and very much a reminder of what happened here in the Fox C-6 School District.

Fox C-6 is currently undergoing a state audit just as SJSD did last year. Hopefully the Fox C-6 state audit will be released later this year so the community can learn more about what went on in our school district during former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow's tenure. I have a feeling that many more surprises will be uncovered when Fox's audit is released and that there will be many similarities to the SJSD audit.

SJSD School Board Members Reflect on Audit Findings
One of the yesterday's news stories had reactions from some of the St. Joseph School District school board members. Several of the board members couldn't understand how the annual audit being performed by a local firm didn't throw up any "red flags" or uncover any problems going on in their school district. It sounds awfully familiar to what happened here at Fox regarding our annual audit. The Fox C-6 school board and community were told every year that things were going great.

One of the main points in the story is the fact that SJSD board members didn't ask more questions about what was going on when they weren't getting information that they thought they needed.

That point hits home with respect to the credit card statements that weren't being supplied to Fox's school board members and the lack of details being supplied in the monthly Bill Payments Report in the board meeting packets. Fox's board members approved monthly payments to the credit card companies and other vendors without having all of the details behind the payments. It made it very easy for some of Fox's administrators to purchase things they shouldn't have with taxpayer money. Hindsight has shown us why that information wasn't being supplied even though I asked for it to be provided numerous times and was refused by former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow.

Another issue was that a lot of the decisions needing approval by the SJSD administration right away without much time to review the information ahead of time. 

It clearly demonstrates how a lack of oversight allows administrators to get away with things that should have never happened in the first place had there been a culture of integrity and honesty rather than deception and retaliation.

The articles and comments below should be read by everyone in the Fox C-6 community. 

I really liked the following story because it has a very good graphic showing some of the things that could have been purchased for the $25 Million Dollars that was spent in stipends that weren't approved or authorized by the SJSD school board. A parent mentioned how their weren't enough books in their district as well. Fox has had the same book shortage problem for years despite former Superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow's public denials. 

Some of the purchase examples from the SJSD article, the district could have purchased 95,785 Google Chromebooks or 10 million school lunches:

Below are some additional stories about the St. Joseph School District Audit Results:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunshine Law Lessons From the 2015 State Audit of the St. Joseph School District

There are a lot of lessons to learn from the 2015 St. Joseph School District State Audit. One very important section of the state audit report is the Sunshine Law section.

Hopefully the Fox C-6 community and our Fox C-6 school board members and board candidates will read the Sunshine Law section of the St. Joseph School District state audit report very carefully because it's very educational. Of course, some of our district administrators didn't want the public to know what was going on in the district as documented in email responses to my questions regarding board meeting minutes and other issues.

The lack of transparency and intentional lack of details in school board meeting minutes allowed the malfeasant behavior of some of our district administrators to continue for years unchecked. Board members should have done their job but they were willfully blind as to what was going on.

When I spoke for the first time at a school board meeting in December 2010, it had been more than two and a half years of dealing with the district on Section 504 issues where the district had been found non-compliant with the law and had signed a Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Educations's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR). The Resolution Agreement was signed by Dan Baker on May 1, 2009 in which the district agreed to do things in order to become compliant with the law by certain dates. As of December 2014, the district still had not met the obligations of the agreement from May 1, 2009.

In March 2010, Fox C-6 was notified that the district would be undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review which was issued out of the Washington D.C. ED OCR Office. The District Wide Compliance Review has been an open investigation ever since and is still an open investigation. The public was never notified of the Resolution Agreement or the District Wide Compliance Review. Former superintendent Diane Brown-Critchlow as well as the district's former law firm addressed both the Resolution Agreement and the District Wide Compliance Review informing me at board meetings during Public Comment and in letters from their legal counsel that there was nothing to tell the public until the Resolution Agreement was closed or the District Wide Compliance Review investigation was completed and findings were issued.

How many years do you think it would take for a school district to fulfill the agreed upon items in a Resolution Agreement or for ED OCR to investigate and complete a District Wide Compliance Review?

At the December 2010 Fox C-6 board meeting I asked the Fox C-6 school board about the credentials and if background checks had been done and who approved the salary for Jamie Critchlow when he was hired by the district in September 2009 and promoted to the Director of the Bridges program in November 2009.

I also reminded the board that Dianne Brown had blocked me from speaking to the school board in September 2008 when she informed me that the school board had already decided not to speak with me after I had already been told by board president Wes Griffith that they would. Mrs. Brown told me that just as Wes Griffith and board secretary Debby Davis had already informed me that since Wes Griffith forgot to put me on that night's agenda that I would be able to speak at the next board meeting in Closed Session. Board members Dan Smith and Ruth Ann Newman and assistant superintendent Dan Baker were all sitting at the table as Mrs. Brown informed me that the board had decided not to speak with me.

At the December 2010 board meeting, I also asked the board if they were aware of the ED OCR District Wide Compliance Review since nothing had been documented in any of the board meeting minutes that the district was undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review. Dianne Brown asked me during my Public Comments if I was speaking about the ED OCR complaint to which I answered no. I was asking about the District Wide Compliance Review since Fox C-6 was one of only 2 school districts in the United States that were undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review to determine if the district was properly following the law and providing Section 504 plans for students that qualified for Section 504 for medical disabilities.

My questions at the December 2010 board meeting were documented in the board meeting minutes as "Concerns in the district." My "Concerns in the district" as documented in the board meeting minutes weren't very informative, therefore the public was kept in the dark as to matters that should have concerned the community.

I asked the board and board secretary to update the board meeting minutes with more details, I received a response from Dianne Brown informing me that the board meeting minutes properly followed the law and that the board secretary contacted the Missouri School Board Association's legal counsel regarding my concern about the board meeting minutes.

Had there been audio recordings of board meetings back then, the public would have been able to question the board much sooner as to why the district was undergoing a District Wide Compliance Review and why the district still hadn't fulfilled the agreed upon requirements of the May 2009 Resolution Agreement.

Not informing the public about District Wide Compliance Reviews and Resolution Agreements appears to be a common practice in our state. The lack of enforcement of the law from ED OCR and USDA OCR and the lack of transparency allows school districts to keep Resolution Agreements and District Wide Compliance Reviews open for years without consequence. In many cases students graduate before school districts properly meet the requirements of Section 504 law.

Dave Palmer is the last of the long term board members who was sitting on the Fox C-6 school board in December 2010. Dave Palmer along with the other long term board members did nothing as they were provided documentation on Section 504 law and asked to attend Section 504 meetings to understand how the district was getting around the law. As we provided the school board documentation back then, they handed it over to Dianne Brown and to the attorneys which was used during the district's Due Process Hearing in 2010.

Mr. Palmer is well known for stating that he wasn't going to speak to the public because he doesn't want to get sued for saying something wrong or having what he said misquoted. Dave Palmer's running for the school board again this April. Mr. Palmer certainly does not need another term on our school board. I can't even guess what reason he has for wanting to be on the board again. Perhaps he feels the need to pay back the district for promoting his wife to a position she should not have been promoted to in 2006 as the Director of Nursing and was given a 75% pay increase for that promotion.

I believe if there had been audio recordings of Fox C-6 school board meetings posted online and board meeting packets had been made available to the public prior to board meetings 5 or 6 years ago like they are now, the community would have been aware of the problems going on in our district much sooner. Those who did know were too afraid to speak up and voice their concerns for fear of retaliation. Everyone knows what happened to those that did speak up.

You can read eventual email response I received from former superintendent Dianne Brown from May 2011 addressing my concerns from my December 2010 public comments in the following article:

I've given numerous examples of times when the board made decisions in Closed Session meetings that should have been made during Public Session just like those mentioned in the St. Joseph state audit report, The most blatant and well documented one was the violation of Sunshine law at the November 5, 2013 board workshop when an attorney from Fox's former law firm recommended taking a public discussion into Closed Session.

Transparency is very important! The public needs to know what's going on in their school district and how their tax dollars are being spent. Since the school board represents the community, it's their responsibility to ensure that the public is kept informed by making sure that the board secretary properly and thoroughly documents their decisions and Public Comments from the community.

Having board members who are knowledgeable about Sunshine Law and are willing to stand up to district administrators and hold them accountable for their actions is vital to ensuring that our district properly follows the law and doesn't just pretend to be following the law.

Read what the state auditor's office had to say about Closed meeting minutes in the 2015 Missouri State Audit Report of the St. Joseph School District and why it's important that they are made publicly available just like the Public Session minutes are.

The following excerpt of information is from the Sunshine Law section of the 2015 Missouri State Audit Report of the St. Joseph School District

13.  Sunshine Law
The School Board did not always comply with the Sunshine Law and held numerous improper closed meetings.

13.1  Closed Meetings

The Board held approximately 40 closed meetings from January 2012 through June 2014, but did not always follow various requirements of Chapter 610, RSMo (the Sunshine Law).
  • The Board approved a list of reasons for going into a closed session at an open meeting in several instances, but only discussed some of these topics in the closed meeting. For example, minutes of the February 10, 2014, open meeting indicated a closed meeting would be held to discuss legal; real state; hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of employees; specifications for competitive bidding; sealed bids; individually identifiable personnel records, performance ratings or records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment; and, individually identifiable personnel records. However, the closed meeting minutes did not document any discussion of real estate, bidding, or sealed bids. In addition, the Board met on occasion in closed session and the only documented discussion was the approval of prior closed meeting minutes.
  • The Board discussed some topics in closed meetings that are not allowable under the Sunshine Law. According to minutes of closed meetings, unallowable topics included scholarship awards, construction project updates, and department updates. The Board also discussed items in closed session that may be unallowable and did not maintain sufficient documentation to demonstrate how these issues were allowable under the Sunshine Law. Some of these issues included the creation of new or additional positions, lighting issues at an elementary school, the academic calendar, and block scheduling.
To ensure compliance with state law and the public is accurately informed, the Board should only cite reasons for going into closed session it plans to discuss, restrict discussion in closed meetings to the allowable topics listed in the Sunshine Law, and adequately demonstrate how topics comply with the Sunshine Law for discussion in closed session.

13.2   Public disclosure

The Board does not always make public the final disposition of legal matters or contracts discussed and approved in closed meetings. The Board approved the settlement of two lawsuits during the 2 school years ending June 30, 2014. The district's financial responsibility in one of these settlements, a terminated contract, was $87,500. The other resulted in a $100,000 settlement paid by the district's insurance provider to a former employee. In addition, the district agreed to pay family health insurance premiums of the former employee until she was Medicare eligible, which was approximately 17 years. The Board did not publicly disclose the final resolutions. 

The Board also voted on and approved some contracts in closed session and did not subsequently disclose those votes in an open meeting or by other means. For example, on December 21, 2012, the Board approved an amended and restated contract for the former Superintendent. Also, on February 10, 2014, the Board voted to ratify the additional duty stipends granted administrators in August 2013, and authorized the Superintendent to reissue extra duty contracts.  

Section 610.021, RSMo, requires any minutes, vote or settlement agreement relating to legal actions, causes of action or litigation involving the district or any agent or entity representing its interests or acting on its behalf or with its authority, including any insurance company acting on behalf of the district as its insured, be made public upon final disposition of the matter 

voted upon or upon the signing by the parties of the settlement agreement, including the terms of the settlements. The section also requires the Board to disclose in open session or by other means the approval of all contracts. 

Recommendations - The School Board:  

13.1  Cite specific reasons for going into closed meetings only for topics it plans to discuss, and ensure items discussed in closed meetings are allowable topics under state law and adequately demonstrated as such. 

13.2  Ensure the final disposition of legal matters discussed at closed meetings and all votes to approve contracts are made public as required by state law. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Really? Copyright Complaint Filed Over Sunshine Requested Legal Bills Report Posted for the Public!

Yesterday morning I received an email informing me that the 2004-2010 Fox C-6 Legal Bills report that I posted in my previous article had been removed by my document hosting provider due to a copyright infringement complaint that someone filed.

Wow! That should have Fox C-6 taxpayers scratching their heads wondering who would have filed such a complaint and also wondering how a report listing of legal bills and corresponding check payments to a law firm is considered copyrighted material and can't be posted for the public to review.

Who filed the complaint is currently being investigated after I responded to the complaint. I'll post an update when I find out who filed the complaint.

Most importantly, why would someone file a copyright infringement complaint and request that a document be taken down when legal bill payments are published in our board meeting packets each month and are posted on the district website for the public to review?

It should be noted that the bills prior to May 2010 had never been posted on the district website. I had to make formal requests numerous times over the years in order to obtain them. They were just made available to me on February 3, 2015 for the first time.

It should also be noted that there weren't any notices on the legal bills listing report stating that the material was copyrighted by the school district or anyone else for that matter.

I've dealt with copyright law since the early 1980's when I first started writing software in order to protect my work when writing software applications. For someone to file a copyright infringement complaint for a report created by our school district's CFO in response to a Sunshine Request for legal bills gives the impression that someone doesn't want the public to know the details as to how much taxpayer money has been spent in legal fees by our school district in an easy to read report.

I contacted the hosting service about the document that's been temporarily removed from my account per their email. I asked that the document be restored and asking who filed the copyright infringement complaint.

It will be interesting to see who filed the complaint and their reason for asking for the document to be removed.

The document in question was referenced in the article I wrote last week which can be viewed using the link below:

It's probably not a surprise that someone doesn't want the public to know how much has been spent in legal fees by our district considering how many years I've tried to get copies of the invoices for those legal fees. I still haven't been provided a single copy of an actual invoice via my Sunshine Law requests.

It makes things even more intriguing for everyone as to why the legal bills are such a big secret and have been kept from the public. You would certainly hope that our school board members are reviewing the invoices each month when they approve the bill payments.

I certainly hope our school board members reviewed the bills prior to approving the bill payments at the August and September 2012 board meetings that totaled more than $103,000 for just those two months of bill payments. That's a lot of money just for legal fees in just two months. However, that's also the same time period that I was sent a cease and desist letter by the school district's former legal counsel informing me that the district may take legal action against me if I didn't stop speaking to the public and to former and current school administrators about ongoing issues in our district.

It certainly makes you wonder what's up with all of those legal fees.

Camdenton School District Similarities
Everyone should read about the issues that have been occurring in the Camdenton School Districtthat are very similar to what's been occurring in our school district for years by clicking on the link below. The superintendent and law firm in Camdenton appear to use the same tactics as those of Fox's former superintendent and former law firm.

Greeville School District Similarities
You'll find another story from the Greenville School District that follows the same pattern of bullying by their school superintendent when he had a cease and desist letter sent to a patron in their district who was critical of the superintendent's ethics in the hiring of an unnamed employee. An October 2013 news article in the Southeast Missourian documents what occurred. Sending out cease and desist letters appears to be a pattern of practice used time after time to silence critics of wrongdoing in their school district. Below is a link to that article.

The Greenville story is very similar to what happened here at Fox when cease and desist letters were sent to myself and others by the same law firm of Mickes Goldman O'Toole. I received a cease and desist letter in August 2012 after posting articles on this blog and emailing friends regarding my concerns about former Fox superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow's salary and my concerns about how the the 2012 bond issue money was going to be used.

Three other Fox C-6 patrons who were critical of the district were sent cease and desist letters in February 2013. They were critical about the hiring of former Fox C-6 board president Linda Nash's daughter in-law as the Food Service Director since she didn't have the credentials the district required for the position as well as being critical of Fox's former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow.

December 2010 Board Meeting Public Comments
At the December 2010 Fox C-6 Board of Education meeting, I questioned Fox board members about Jamie Critchlow's credentials and who approved his salary amount when he was hired and promoted to the Director of the Bridges program in November 2009. If you recall, Jamie Critchlow was fired from that position in June 2014 after derogatory comments directed at myself and others were posted in an online forum were traced to the home of former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow and Jamie Critchlow.

Jamie Critchlow was originally hired by Fox C-6 as an assistant football coach and a Behavior Intervention Support Teacher (BIST) in September 2009. After just two months as a BIST teacher Mr. Critchlow was promoted to the Director of the Bridges program. Mr. Critchlow had a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2009 and had not taken the School Leadership Licensure Assessment test. I had been told by retired teachers that Mr. Critchlow's degree was in Ceramics. That's why I questioned his credentials at the December 2010 BOE meeting.

Jamie Critchlow's starting salary as a BIST teacher was roughly $36,000 per year. His starting salary as the Director of Bridges was more than $98,000 per year according to MO DESE's records. Jamie Critchlow's salary was $124,079 when he was fired by Fox C-6 in June 2014.

Former Fox C-6 board member Cheryl Hermann was board president when I spoke to the board at the December 2010 board meeting. She told me at the December 2010 meeting that I needed to call Central Office to get my questions answered. You can listen to my public comments at that meeting by clicking on the link below.

Mr. Critchlow's quick promotion was a concern among teachers and staff in the district that were aware of the "rumors" in the district. The "rumors" were put to rest when former superintendent Dianne Brown and Jamie Critchlow both divorced their spouses and married in early 2012. It also explained the harsh email I received from Dianne Brown in May 2011 after I emailed then board president Ruth Ann Newman still trying to get answers to my questions from the December 2010 school board meeting. You can read the article I previously wrote about Dianne Brown's May 2011 email response by clicking on the link below.

It's amazing how long it took for the community to become aware of the problems in our school district. It's also no wonder harsh comments were traced back to the home of former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow and to the home of assistant superintendent (now serving as Seckman Elementary principal) Dan Baker and his wife Angie Burns Baker.

It should be noted that there were harsh comments posted about me on Topix right after I spoke at the December 14, 2010 board meeting. Who could have made those comments when only 7 people attended that board meeting that night besides the board members and Central Office administrators?

St. Joseph School District Rated "Poor" in State Audit
Everyone in the Fox C-6 School District should also read the recent State Auditor's report that was released this week about the St. Joseph School District. It should be an eye opening report for the taxpayers of our school district and our school board members as to how in depth a state audit can be. There is a link to the St. Joseph School District state audit report below. The state audit report gave the St. Joseph School District a rating of "poor". Poor is the lowest rating given out by the state auditor's office.

Every Fox C-6 taxpayer needs to read the St. Joseph School District State Audit Report.

Fox C-6 is currently undergoing a state audit. It will be interesting to see how much more is uncovered when Fox's state audit is released hopefully later this year. Some of Fox's Central Office administrators made a lot of questionable purchases using their district supplied credit cards prior to having them taken away last summer.

Below are some of the news articles covering the recent state audit report released to the public by Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich of the St. Joseph School District.

I highly recommend reading the comments posted to the articles below as well. One of the articles mentioned that teachers attending the meeting were afraid to speak about the audit for fear of retribution from administration.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fox C-6 Legal Fees Dating Back to 2004 Provided by District

It's been several weeks since I've been able to find enough free time to finish an article. It takes hours to write and edit an article. I haven't been home long enough or had other higher priority activities keeping me from get any articles completed. I've been bouncing between several different subjects that need to be addressed in separate articles and hope to get them published in the next week or two.

Between helping my wife run kids to or from practices to preparing for the annual pinewood derby race as well as running the pinewood derby race with the help of other parents and scouts, to helping scouts along with others help build an all natural material klondike sled over several weekends (losing several small trees on my hillside as wood was obtained for the sled and will most likely be noticeable in the next Google Earth imagery) and attending klondike; attending STEM committee meetings, leader training and other meetings and trying to run more miles in preparation for the annual marathon and spending hours on the phone with Sprint's customer service trying to get my bill corrected after attempting to switch to Sprint from AT&T and returning the phones due to many problems with Sprint's service (that story needs to be shared with everyone), there just wasn't enough time to complete an article.

I've been asked or had comments from many people over the last couple of weeks as to why I hadn't written any articles and that's my "excuse". I appreciate those that were concerned. Not being home for more than a few minutes almost every evening other than to pick up kids or items needed for a meeting and head off to a meeting or activity really cut into my research and reporting time.

There's been quite a bit going on over the last month and since the last board meeting. Everyone should know by now that the next Fox C-6 board meeting was moved from February 17th to February 24th. You should always check the board meeting schedule on the district website at:

Fox C-6 Legal Bills
I've been trying to get an article out about the legal bills dating back to the 2004-2005 school year that I received from Fox's CFO John Brazeal on February 3, 2015 but haven't had time to finish researching why the name of the law firm listed on the bills from 2004-2008 didn't reflect the name of the law firm as documented by articles in the St. Louis Business Journal. Plus, I wanted to provide the amounts that were paid to date to them as well.

Researching that information led me to finding another blogger in the Camdenton school district that's run into similar issues with their school district which reminded me that I had found his blog before. Apparently, Camdenton has had similar issues with the same law firm that Fox C-6 used until last June when they were replaced.

I recommend reading some of the articles from the Camdenton blogger and how their community had similar issues communicating with their school board.

I received a report of the legal bill amounts and payments from Mr. Brazeal. However, I didn't copies of the actual invoices. I was provided a list of all of the invoices paid to the primary law firm for the district along with the amount that was waived for providing me that information. Mr. Brazeal reported that the total time listed for researching and providing me the documents was approximately 6 hours of staff time, which calculates to approximately $114 of fee waived by the district. Thank you for waiving the fee.

I've listed the totals below by school year from the report. I'll post the more recent years when I get them accurately totaled and broken out from the board packets for the law firm listed in the report.
I was charged for some of the board packets in the past. I refused to pay for the board packets prior to April 2010 because the district was asking for an amount I was unwilling and unable to afford.

Fox C-6 Legal Bills 2004-2013
2004-2005 -   $21,906.50
2005-2006 -   $39,218.86
2006-2007 -   $45,929.39
2007-2008 -   $74,560.41
2008-2009 - $109,116.49
2009-2010 -   $71,083.37
2010-2011 - $100,342.74
2011-2012 -   $81,029.43
2012-2013 - $148,903.30

What I found unusual was that the legal bills provided to me had the law firm name listed as Doster Guinn James Ullom rather than Doster Mickes James Ullom as reported in the St. Louis Business Journal articles below. The firm changed names in 2008 when Mickes split from Doster Mickes James Ullom and joined up with Goldman and O'Toole to become Mickes Goldman O'Toole.

I've been requesting for years the legal fees paid by the district dating back to 2008. I asked for copies of the invoices from the law firm back in 2009 which was responded to with a letter informing me that the district didn't get detailed billing and that the district would have to charge me a fee in order to obtain copies of those invoices because they would have to be redacted before I could have them. It seems that getting copies of actual invoices with the amounts broken out for services for legal fees is difficult to obtain.

Parents Club Meets with Board Candidates
The subject of being able to communicate with our school board and get feedback from the board was brought up by other parents the other night at the Lone Dell Parent's Club meeting when school board candidates Mark Jones and Sherry "Chellew" Poppen came and met with the parent's club. There were quite a few interesting comments made at the meeting. One of them brought up by another parent was that she had heard that 240 teachers had applied for the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan. She said that she had been given that number by another teacher. When someone asked the Lone Dell assistant principal how many had applied from Lone Dell, she responded by saying that 4 or 5 had applied. The high number of applications for teachers leaving alarmed many of the parents.

I'll cover more of what was discussed with the candidates in a future article. There was quite a bit discussed and quite a few concerns from the parents. There's still a large amount of distrust in the community. It's going to take time and good decisions to rebuild the trust with the community that has been shattered by former and current administrators as well as our school board.