Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was Misinformation Intended to Fool the Community? Absolutely!

I never knew that speaking at the December 14, 2010 Fox C-6 school board meeting would lead to a complete turnover of Central Office administrators just a few years later. The article below was published in the Arnold-Imperial Leader the week after I spoke at the school board meeting.

Former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Brown (Critchlow), former assistant superintendent Todd Scott (now Seckman High School principal) and former Director of the Bridges program, Jamie Critchlow were interviewed for the article. The article covered the hiring of Jamie Critchlow as the new head football coach for Seckman High School. It also mentioned the hiring of Jamie Critchlow as a Behavior Intervention Support Team (BIST) Teacher in August 2009 and his subsequent promotion a few months later in November 2009 to the Director of the at-risk Bridges program.

The promotion from BIST teacher to Director increased Jamie Critchlow’s salary from $45,870 (per May 2009 board meeting packet Certified hires list) to $98,005 (as reported in the article). That salary increase was given without having a certificate in Administration. That’s why I went and spoke to the Fox C-6 school board.

The article stated that Jamie Critchlow could have been making $2,000 more than the $98,005 salary that he was earning as the At-Risk Director of the Bridges program because Fox C-6 administrators had given back their raises for the 2010-2011 school year.

According to the article, Todd Scott said that, “Critchlow’s salary is the same this year as last.” and that, “Critchlow’s salary is the same amount the previous at-risk director, Kolin Peterson, earned.”

I’m not quite sure how Jamie Critchlow’s salary of $98,005, “is the same amount the previous at-risk director, Kolin Peterson, earned”. After reviewing the following data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), it appears that Mr. Critchlow’s salary was more than 2.5 times higher than the previous at-risk director’s salary.

Jamie Critchlow began working for the district in the 2009-2010 school year. Below are the salary amounts as reported to Missouri DESE by Fox for Mr. Critchlow:
2010 -   $98,589
2011 - $101,884
2012 - $107,813
2013 - $116,103
2014 - $124,079

Kolin Peterson began working for the district in the 2006-2007 school year. Below are the salary amounts as reported to Missouri DESE for Mr. Peterson:
2007 - $32,096
2008 - $36,567
2009 - $37,744
2010 - $38,552
2011 - $39,323

Dianne Brown (Critchlow) mentioned the district’s "stringent hiring practices" in the article.

In 2012, the district's "stringent hiring practices" made headlines while Dianne (Brown) Critchlow was still superintendent. That’s when Fox hired Kelly Nash as the district’s Nutrition Director even though she didn’t have a college degree or certification for the job. Kelly Nash is the daughter-in-law of former Fox C-6 school board president, Linda Nash. In January 2015, Kelly Nash’s employment was terminated by the district and she walked away with a $20,000 settlement.

Assistant superintendent Todd Scott talked about the credentials in the article that I had asked about at the December 14, 2010 board meeting. He said, "the district checks with DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) when hiring a certified employee, such as a teacher or administrator, to make sure the person has the proper credentials."

Missouri DESE requires the completion of a master's degree or higher in educational administration in order to obtain an Initial Administrator Certificate. Mr. Critchlow had a master's degree in Art which does not meet DESE's requirements for obtaining an Initial Administrator Certificate.

If the district had checked Mr. Critchlow's credentials with Missouri DESE like I had done back then, they would have known that Mr. Critchlow did not have a Principal/Administrator certificate when he was promoted to an "administrator" position in November 2009. Mr. Critchlow didn’t earn a Principal/Administrator certificate until May 27, 2014 but was paid a principal's salary for nearly 5 years without having the credentials required to justify the salary.

Mr. Critchlow was fired less than a month after obtaining his Principal/Administrator certificate.

In 2009, Fox’s school board policy “0340 - Code of Ethics” contained the following statement, “Employ only such qualified employees as are properly recommended by the Superintendent of schools.” That’s an important statement. Former superintendent Dianne Brown (Critchlow) was responsible for properly recommending only those employees who are qualified for the job.

It wasn’t until the release of the May 2016 Missouri State Auditor’s report that the public learned that Mr. Critchlow’s promotion was not approved by the school board. I recently obtained copies of the Contract Modifications requests that were presented to the Fox C-6 school board for the 2009-2010 school year by Dianne Brown (Critchlow) for approval. Mr. Critchlow’s name didn’t appear on any of those requests. His name only appeared on the May 2009 list of Certified Hires from the 2008-2009 school board meeting packets.

Dianne Critchlow improperly promoted and compensated her husband (before they were married) to a position/salary schedule that he was not qualified or certified for.

The difference between a teacher’s salary with a master’s degree and what Mr. Critchlow earned while working for the district was more than $300,000 and should be repaid to the district.

Jag Coach had DWI in Texas (PDF)
December 23, 2010

Saturday, July 8, 2017

June 1, 2017 - Arnold-Imperial Leader Column - Mum Should Not Be the Word for Elected Officials

Below is a post I made on the Fox C-6 Watchdogs Facebook page on June 7, 2017.

June 7, 2017 - Fox C-6 Watchdogs Facebook Post
The past 9 years have been like putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle while having to find all of the pieces on an Ultra-Marathon length Orienteering Course.

At the same time, it required writing a research paper to document all of the findings in order to come up with solutions for getting around the problems or obstacles that were tossed out along the way. Mind mapping tools are very helpful when assembling and tracking all of the pieces of the puzzle.

The end goal to all of the documenting is to ensure that the school district recovers the funds for our students and our community that were misused or improperly compensated as documented in the 2016 State Auditor's report.

Lack of Transparency During Critchlow's Tenure
Probably the biggest problem to overcome over the past 8 years was trying to get access to information that should have been available to the public all along, like the board packets. Having information like the board packets which included bill payments would have allowed the community to be more involved with school district decisions and more knowledgeable as to how their taxpayer dollars were being spent.

The June 1, 2017 Arnold-Imperial Leader's Editor Opinions page had an article about some of the issues that some of our local school boards have faced in recent times. It was a very good article and hit the nail on the head as to what happens when school boards are "mum" on issues or don't communicate very well with the community. It's too bad this article wasn't written about 7 or 8 years ago.

One of the puzzle pieces that I was reminded of while reading the Arnold-Imperial Leader Opinions article can be found in former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow's 2014 Settlement and Release Agreement that I obtained via a July 31, 2014 Sunshine Request.

There's a good chance that the community may find a lot more pieces to the puzzle if someone in the community was able to get a copy of the 3,800+ page investigation report from the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's office.

Since the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's office wants to charge more than $200 for a copy of the report, there's a good chance that it contains a few more pieces to the puzzle.

Below is a link to Peggy Bess's June 1, 2017 Arnold-Imperial Leader column titled, "Mum should not be the word for elected officials":

Have you asked Fox C-6's Board of Educations what their plans are to recover Public Funds?

I've been a bit behind on posting some of the items that I've posted on the Fox C-6 Watchdogs Facebook page.

On June 5, 2017, I wrote the following post on Facebook for the community. I wrote it because it had been more than a year since the Missouri State Auditor publicly released their audit findings of the Fox C-6 School District. And after a year, there still hasn't been any further recovery of public fund.

On June 2, 2016, the LEADER's Patrick Martin presented some really good questions after the release of the 2016 Missouri Auditor's report in his Editor's Opinion article below: The title of his article was "Latest Taxpayer Horror Movie Unfolds within Fox Audit".

Below is what I originally posted on Facebook on June 5, 2017 along with a few additional details I've added regarding Dianne Critchlow's July 2014 Settlement and Release Agreement.

From Fox C-6 Watchdogs Facebook Post - June 5, 2017:

Has anyone else asked our school board or superintendent what the district plans to do about recovering the funds that were identified in the May 2016 Missouri State Auditor's report?

Last week I met with Dr. Wipke and Fox's school board president to discuss what the district planned to do about recovering the taxpayer dollars that were identified in the 2016 State Auditor's report.

If you think pursuing recovery of funds is important to our students and our taxpayers, I highly recommend contacting our school board members.

Currently, it doesn't appear that the district believes it can recover the funds for a variety of reasons.

Some of those reasons are:
  • There was never an admission of wrongdoing.
  • It doesn't appear that there was criminal intent to misuse taxpayer funds.
  • No criminal charges were filed by the prosecuting attorneys.
  • Since no criminal charges were filed, it makes it difficult to claim a "criminal loss" with the school district's insurance company.
  • The district could spend more money in legal fees than they recover.
  • Everything was approved by the board or signed off by the board president.
  • People's memories of what occurred may have faded.
  • Bringing up the past brings negative energy to the district.

You can find a lot of cases across the country where school districts recovered funds for their students and taxpayers after scathing audits. Typically school districts filed civil suits to recover the funds. In other cases, the school district's Errors and Omissions Insurance covered the loss and the insurance company then pursued the funds from the individuals that misused them.

Reading through years of articles, it's easy to see that a few people in the district didn't want the public to know what was going on.

As far as school board approval goes, at the June 25, 2013 school board meeting, the district submitted their request to the board to approve credit card usage according to school board policies. The district touted to the board that they now had "tighter controls" over their credit card usage.

So, who's to blame for the individuals like Dianne Critchlow for not following school board policies?

Was it the school board's fault that Critchlow did not follow school district policy when she used her school district credit card to purchase personal items and meals?

Critchlow had a very good reason as to why she didn't want me to get copies of the school district credit card statements in February 2014. You can also figure out why the district didn't provide me copies of the credit card statements for nearly 6 months after my original request.

I was also wondering if former superintendent Dianne Critchlow's 2014 Settlement and Release Agreement has been keeping the district from pursuing misused funds. I was provided the separation agreements from a Sunshine Request made in July 2014 and posted it on August 5, 2014. There were two very notable items in the separation agreement.

The first notable item that was written into the separation agreement was the fact that the district allowed Critchlow to file a claim using the school district's insurance policy that was paid for with public funds for "defense and indemnification”. This would most likely pay for any legal fees as well. It appears in paragraph 3(e) of her Settlement and Release Agreement as follows:

“Critchlow does not waive and hereby expressly reserves her rights and abilities, if any, to file a claim for defense and indemnification under any policy of insurance that may apply in any case, including but not limited to any policy of insurance purchased or retained by the District.”
Perhaps this part of the Settlement and Release Agreement is why the district hasn't filed a claim with the district's insurance carrier.

There’s also another sentence in her Settlement and Release Agreement that states that she cannot file a lawsuit against the district:

“Critchlow understands that the provisions of this Paragraph and Paragraph 3 mean that she cannot file a lawsuit against the District.”

You can read about Dianne Critchlow's July 2014 Release and Separation Agreement and read a copy of the agreement as well as view some of the district's Credit Card Statements I finally received in 2014 in the following article I wrote on August 5, 2014:

A year ago on June 2, 2016, the LEADER's Patrick Martin presented some really good questions after the release of the 2016 Missouri Auditor's report in his Editor's Opinion article below: The title of his article was "Latest Taxpayer Horror Movie Unfolds within Fox Audit".