Saturday, March 14, 2015

KMOV News 4 Covers Fox C-6 Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan Payout

Robin Smith of KMOV News 4 covered the Fox school district Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan (VSIP) payout on Friday March 13, 2015 at 5PM.

I posted an article about the most recent VSIP payot totals to date on Wednesday March 11. That article has already had more than 1,000 page views.

News 4 reporter Robin Smith interviewed Fox's Chief Financial Officer John Brazeal. John Brazeal is a fellow Fox graduate. Mr. Brazeal's father taught in the district years ago when my father was principal at Fox High School.

Mr. Brazeal told News 4 that current projections are that between 140 and 150 people will be taking advantage of the incentive payout which will cost the district about $4 Million dollars.

The March 17, 2015 board meeting packet was posted Friday evening March 13, 2015 but did not contain an updated list of employees that are taking advantage of the VSIP payout. The most recent VSIP report listing found in the February 24, 2015 board packet had less than 100 people listed at a cost of $2.72 Million dollars.

The cutoff to apply for the VSIP program was January 16, 2015. Employees then had 45 days to decide whether or not they would be taking advantage of the VSIP after reviewing the documents and having the opportunity to consult with their tax advisors. So, the list of employees taking advantage of the VSIP should be known by now but that information was not included in the March 17, 2015 board packet.

Fox is losing some very good employees who are taking advantage of the VSIP because they are tired of all of the disgraceful things that have gone on in our district over the past decade.

Fewer Fox employees would have been eligible for the VSIP program prior to last year, Prior to February 2014, Fox C-6 employees were required to work in the district for a minimum of 10 years before being eligible for the Early Retirement Incentive Plan which was changed to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan in the summer of 2014.

In February 2014, changes were made to remove the cap on the maximum number of years of service that kept some people from qualifying for the VSIP. It was considered discriminatory by the district's former legal counsel. However, when the upper cap was removed from the Employment Retirement Incentive Plan, the 10 year minimum requirement was also removed and approved by the board.

Fox's school board planned to make the 2014-2015 school year, the last year that the Early Retirement Incentive Plan was offered to employees as it had been offered year after year for years and was no longer being used as intended.

The 10 year minimum requirement of working for the school district was replaced with the requirement of only having to be vested in Missouri's Public School Retirement System (PSRS) or Missouri's Public Education Employees Retirement System (PEERS). A minimum of 5 years of qualified service is all that is required to become vested in PSRS or PEERS. This means that anyone who has at least 5 years of qualified service under the PSRS or PEERS retirement system would be eligible to take advantage of Fox's incentive payout program.

So, thanks to the changes made to Fox's Early Retirement Incentive Plan in February 2014, Fox C-6 taxpayers will be footing the bill for incentive payments to employees who have worked for the Fox C-6 School District for as little as 1 or 2 years. Lack of thorough oversight and lack of transparency by our school board allowed for this blunder to occur when the changes were made to the Early Retirement Incentive Plan last year.

Changes to Fox's early retirement incentive plan were made prior to the public learning that derogatory comments had been posted about myself and others in online forums that were traced to the home of former disgraced superintendent Dianne Critchlow and her husband Jamie Critchlow the former Director of the Bridges program. Jamie Critchlow was fired in June 2014. Dianne Critchlow was allowed to walk away with an incentive payout of more than $130,000 in October 2014 even after the public learned about all of the things that had been going under her rule as superintendent.

Derogatory comments were also traced to the home of assistant superintendent Dan Baker and his wife Angie Burns Baker who is Fox's Director of Federal programs. Comments were also traced to the home of former Fox High Assistant Principal Bill Brengle.

Dan Baker was Fox's Section 504 Coordinator for the school district between June 2008 and June 2014. As Fox's 504 Coordinator, Dan Baker was responsible for Fox having to sign a Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) on May 1, 2009 in which the district agreed to take corrective actions and update policies as well as conduct an evaluation in order to comply with Section 504 law and the ADA AA.

As of March 2015, the district still hasn't fully complied with the May 1, 2009 Resolution Agreement with ED OCR that Dan Baker signed and agreed to comply with despite OCR's "vigorous enforcement of Section 504" as they state they do in ED OCR's October 21, 2014 Dear Colleague Letter on Bullying that was sent to all school districts across the country reminding them about their responsibilities in following the law.

I'm being sarcastic when I say that ED OCR performed "vigorous enforcement of Section 504". It's been well documented by the Kansas City Office's "monitoring letters" starting in December 2009 to the Fox School District that ED OCR was anything but vigorous. In fact, ED OCR did nothing but extend deadline after deadline when the district failed to comply with the Resolution Agreement.

What's Happening With the Bakers?
Dan Baker and Angie Burns Baker are both still employed by the district at this time. In fact, Dan Baker has been the interim principal at Seckman Elementary School after the previous principal was moved to an assistant principal position earlier this school year.

Dan Baker was also recently selected as a finalist for the principal position at Seckman Elementary School despite having derogatory comments traced to his home that were made against me in 2013 while he was Fox's Section 504 Coordinator.

It was also discovered last year that Mr. Baker played golf instead of attending the Marzano Conference while in Florida on the first day of the conference. The golf game was paid for with taxpayer money using Todd Scott's school district credit card that was loaned to Jamie Critchlow for the trip. Dan Baker also used his school district credit card numerous times to pay for personal meals and other items which violated school district policy.

Dan Baker's ethical and moral decisions over the past 6+ years should have kept him from even being considered for the principal position at Seckman Elementary School. He was caught bullying parents anonymously in online forums. He cost the district easily close to $200,000 if not more in legal fees as he and Dianne Critchlow tried to get around Section 504 law and the ADA AA for 6 years while Dan Baker served as the district's 504 Coordinator.

There is plenty of documentation to back up Dan Baker's failure in ensuring that the Fox C-6 School District properly followed Section 504 law and the ADA AA.

Read the USDA's August 2011 Final Agency Decision when the district was found to be in violation of Section 504 and the ADA AA.

The Post Dispatch had been informed about the May 2009 Resolution Agreement and the March 2010 District Wide Compliance Review but did not mention either one of those facts in the August 2010 Post Dispatch article that asked us if we had considered moving out of the district. Intimidating parents seems to have been a pattern of practice in the district for the last decade. Comments were posted online about the article within minutes of it being published. Many of them were very derogatory in nature. I asked that some of them be removed but the Post Dispatch refused to remove them. The Post Dispatch eventually removed all of the comments when they switched over to their Facebook comment system. We did ask for the IP addresses of the comments but the paper did not retain those records.

The 2010 Post Dispatch article was very much like a "House of Cards" attempt at using the media to silence parents for attempting to get the school district to do the right thing and do what they were supposed to do as documented in the District Wide Compliance Review.

Read the documents from the ED OCR and USDA OCR to see if you think Dan Baker's comments from the 2010 Post Dispatch article hold true when he told the paper that he "strongly believes the district has handled the situation appropriately".
Baker said he could not discuss the Simpsons' case because of confidentiality rules but strongly believes the district has handled the situation appropriately. He said the district had spent a lot in legal fees during the dispute, but he did not know an exact amount.
Getting around Section 504 law was easy, all for Dan Baker had to do was say he felt the student didn't qualify for Section 504. Then he would inform the parent that they could file a complaint with OCR, file for a Due Process Hearing or sue the school district if they didn't believe his decision was correct.

As the District's 504 Coordinator, Dan Baker was the person who ultimately decided whether or not a student qualified for Section 504 as the district's attorney pointed out several times during 504 meetings over the years.

Since Mr. Baker publicly made the claim that the district spent a lot in legal fees, then the fees spent by the district should be made public. To date that has not happened despite numerous requests. The district was in dispute with USDA OCR and ED OCR between 2008 and 2014 because the district and their legal counsel weren't going to back down from their position after spending all that money.

Dan Baker also violated the public's trust and most likely school district policy in his use of his school district credit card.

The Fox C-6 school board's ethics should be called into question for even allowing Dan Baker to be interviewed for the principal's job at Seckman Elementary School in the first place. Dan and Angie Burns Baker should have been fired last summer after the internet scandal broke but fear of violating their contracts kept the board from doing so.

Dr. Wipke and the Fox C-6 School Board will have to answer to the public and the media if Dan Baker and Angie Baker are offered contracts for anything other than a teaching job in our district. They both are automatically eligible for a teaching job due to teacher tenure law. Administrators don't have tenure but have tenure as teachers if they taught for 5 or more years in the district.

Doug Flowers in the St. Joseph School District (SJSD) was recently offered only a teaching contract after the recent release of the SJSD's state audit. Doug Flowers was the assistant superintendent of Human Resources at SJSD prior to being reassigned to other administrative duties until his contract expires June 30.

Please contact Dr. Wipke and your Fox C-6 school board members before Dan Baker is offered a contract for another administrative position in the Fox C-6 School District. The morale in the district cannot be seriously improved until the Bakers are no longer employed by the district.

Click on the link below to watch KMOV News 4's coverage of Fox's Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan payout.