Saturday, April 2, 2022

How Do You Decide Who To Vote For in School Board Elections?

The 2022 Fox C-6 School Board election is next week on Tuesday April 5, 2022.

Please Vote! Your Vote Matters!

So, how do you decide who you should vote for? 

In many of Fox's nearby school districts, you can find school board candidate information posted on the school district's website. Fox doesn't provide that information like they do in other school districts.

But, once I find out who has filed to run for school board, I search for the candidate's website or any other social media site where they may have posted information.

Next, I want to know who the treasurer is for their campaign and what their affiliations may be with the school district.

Once it gets closer to the election (40 days out), I look up their campaign finance reports to see who is helping fund their campaigns.

You can use the MEC's website to search for candidates who have registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

You can find this information at the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) website:

Each candidate who files with the MEC is assigned an MEC ID. You will notice that ID in the links below which link directly to the candidates information on the MEC website. It's the same link that you would find when you enter a search into the MEC website. 

Below are MEC links for the candidates in the order that they will appear on the April 5th ballot.

Once you click on the link, look for the dark gray Reports tab to the right of the Information tab to find the Electronic Reports for each of the candidates.

Click on the year 2022 for the current year which will then display the various reports that you can view.

There are multiple MEC reports:
8 Day Before General Municipal Election - 4/5/2022
40 Day Before General Municipal Election - 4/5/2022

Sometimes you may see an AMENDED report as well. 

Click on the link for each of the reports to see how much was spent or how much each candidate received in donations.


Kenneth Woolsey

Todd Scott

Brandon Williams

Cathey “Break” Michalski
No Committee Formed

Raymond “Curtiss” C Frazier III

Tara Hagin


Travis Lintner

Vicki Hanson - No Committee for 2022 / (2018 and 2021 Campaign Finance Reports)

David Knoll

No Committee Formed

Ryan Giesler

No Committee Formed

When to Form and Register a Committee

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

2022 - What Other School Districts Are Doing to Help Voters Meet Their School Board Candidates

In 2019, I wrote about why it’s important and sometimes very eye opening to see what other school districts do to help their community and voters meet their school board candidates.

Many of the surrounding school districts post information on their district website about the candidates running for school board each year.

It's great to have that information on the school district's website, because it's important for the community to get to know their candidates.

It's usually posted under a What's New or News category on the district's website.

Some Examples From Surrounding School Districts

Lindbergh School District

Rockwood School District

Parkway School District

Mehlville School District

Affton School District

Valley Park School District

Fox C-6 School District

Here's the article from 2019:

Thursday, March 24, 2022

2022 Fox C-6 School Board Candidates Voters Guide

Leader Publications posted their Voters Guide for the Fox C-6 school board candidates today. You can also find the Voters Guide in this week's Arnold-Imperial Leader newspaper. The community will be voting for 3 Fox C-6 school board members on April 5, 2022. Two board members for 3 year terms. One board member to fill the remaining year of the position vacated by Bob Gruenewald which he resigned from on May 19, 2021. Candidates for the two 3 year term seats are: Kenneth Woolsey Todd Scott Brandon Williams Cathey Michalski Curtiss Frazier Tara Hagin
Candidates for the one 1 year term seat are: Travis Lintner Vicki Hanson David Knoll Ryan Giesler (No Longer Running But Still On the Ballot)

The Rockwood School District recently voted to have two Public Comments sessions at their  school board meetings starting March 17, 2022.

The first public comments session is limited to topics on the agenda for that night's school board meeting.

The second public comments session near the end of the meeting after all regular board meeting agenda items have been completed. The second public comments will allow speakers to talk about anything, including items that weren't on the agenda.

You can read about Rockwood's new Public Comment policy in the Eureka Leader article noted below (until the page expires):

Fox C-6 Planned To Have Listening Sessions beginning November 2013
Rockwood's new public comment policy is similar to the open forum that I had asked Fox's school board for in October 2013.

In fact, I was told by former superintendent, Dianne Critchlow in an October 4, 2013 email that:
"The board is going to host listening sessions beginning in November before each board meeting."
That meant that Fox would begin hosting listening sessions like they were having in the Rockwood School District. The whole idea of listening sessions was to improve transparency and have open discussions with our school board.

However that idea was short lived. Fox's attorney, Ernie Trakas told Fox's board during the November 5, 2013 board workshop that he felt that community listening sessions were a bad idea.

I wrote about this in the article noted below:

Additionally, Fox's attorney decided that the board workshop needed to go into closed session during the open session discussion. That move prompted the following article:

Below are links to some of the past Fox C-6 School Board Candidate Voters Guides and related articles:

June 16, 2021 - Former Fox school board president appointed to vacant seat

2021 Fox C-6 School Board Candidates Voters Guide

2020 Fox C-6 School Board Candidates Voters Guide

2019 Fox C-6 School Board Candidates Voters Guide

2018 Fox C-6 School Board Candidates Voters Guide

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Pandemic Leads To More Open Government Meetings

This week’s (November 11, 2011 Leader newspaper has an editorial "Pandemic Taught Us How to have Truly Open Meetings" written by Kim Robertson noting how some governmental meetings have become more accessible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's why it’s important to look back and see how much things have improved over the past decade when it comes to transparency in the Fox C-6 School District and just how long it took for that happen. The Fox C-6 community was kept in the dark during former superintendent Dianne Brown/Critchlow’s tenure. From 2005 until 2014, Fox C-6 school board meetings weren’t audio or video recorded. Not having audio or video recording school board meetings made it very easy to keep anyone outside of Fox’s administration, school board and the few who attended school board meetings from learning about what was happening behind the scenes at Fox or what patrons concerns were in the district. Over the years, I wrote articles about speaking at Fox BOE meetings asking our school board to audio or video record the meetings like they did in other school districts. I even emailed examples of website links to other school districts to our school board. Dianne Critchlow would respond and tell me that it was up to our school board as to whether or not to audio or video record BOE meetings. Video Recorded School Board Meetings It’s great that we now have video recordings of our school board meetings. It allows more people in our community learn about our district and watch Public Comments as well as discussions about decisions being made in our district. It also provides the opportunity to see some of the great things happening in our district when are presentations made by groups and clubs and they are recognized for their accomplishments. You can go back and watch the videos at anytime. Posting of Board Meeting Agendas and Supporting Documents Another big improvement that I asked our school board for many times was the posting of the agenda and the supporting board packet information on Fox’s website days ahead of school board meetings. This took years to implement as well. Fox eventually chose to use BoardDocs which works well in sharing access to documents like Bill Payments and other documents such as bids and proposals, etc. When I first started asking for Bill Payment Reports, I was charged to get copies of the reports because they weren’t on the website. Sunshine Law allows for fees to be charged to provide the documents. Charging for documents is another easy way to hide things from the public. I wished I had paid the $180 for a copy of the Credit Card statements in February 2014 after I started asking our school board if they had been reviewing the credit card statements. The credit card statements weren’t included in the board packets. Read the article I wrote about speaking at the January 15, 2013 Fox C-6 school board meeting to see how school board meetings were documented back then. It wasn’t the first time I spoke at a Fox C-6 school board meeting. My first time speaking at a board meeting was December 2010. There were only 7 people in attendance at that school board meeting and Kim Robertson was one of them in attendance. She wrote an article about my questioning the board about the hiring of Jamie Critchlow even though I didn't mention any names during my Public Comments. When I spoke at the January 2013 school board meeting I asked our school board again about recording board meetings and making those recordings available to the public. I also told our school board that I believe that there are people in our school community (aka administrators) who are posting defamatory comments online about me after school board meetings. The online comments after school board meetings began right after the December 2010 school board meeting. Bringing change to your school district is sometimes met with a lot of resistance. Even law firms like to get into the fray of stopping parents from speaking up. The Public Comment I made at the January 2013 Fox C-6 school board meeting were documented board meeting minutes the following month as: PUBLIC COMMENTS: Rich Simpson - Requested more board information on the district website.

Once you read the public comment I made at the January 2013 school board meeting, it’s pretty easy to see why the board meeting minutes of my comment provide very little detail. That’s why having audio or video recordings of school board meetings provides a lot more transparency than the board meeting minutes like the one above from 2013. It’s no wonder why it took so long for the public to learn about what was going in our school district and oust our former superintendent. Audio or video recording BOE meetings is essential to having an accurate record of what the public's concerns are and what was really discussed or stated at the meeting and not just what our superintendent wanted the community or the public to know.

January 15, 2013 School Board Meeting Public Comment

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Who Was Watching Over the Office for Civil Rights When Fox Signed the 2018 Resolution Agreement with ED OCR?

In 2015, I asked the following question:

“Who’s Watching Over the Office for Civil Rights?”

In 2021, I found the following answer from a January 2019 announcement:
"Josh comes to Mickes O’Toole from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights office in Kansas City, Missouri, where he oversaw civil rights compliance in seven states, including Missouri and Kansas. Josh led the office’s investigative and legal staff in the investigation and resolution of thousands of civil rights complaints arising from issues such as race or sex harassment, student discipline, special education, Title IX athletics, among many others. Josh’s work included reviewing school policies and providing training to assist public schools districts and post-secondary institutions with their compliance with federal civil rights laws."

Monday, September 27, 2021

New Missouri Law Allows Audio Recording 504 and IEP Meetings

On August 28, 2021, a new Missouri law went into effect that prevents school districts in Missouri from prohibiting parents from audio recording Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings or Section 504 meetings.

Missouri House Bill HB432 was signed into law by Missouri governor Mike Parson on July 14, 2021.

The passage of the new law gives parents a more level playing field when it comes to IEP and 504 meetings.
Missouri Disability Empowerment posted an article on their website about the new law:

The new law includes the following provisions related to recordings:
  • The recordings of the meetings by parents or legal guardians will be the property of the parent or legal guardian.
  • School districts cannot require more than 24 hours notice that a parent or guardian intends to record an IEP or 504 meeting.
  • Employees who report violations of the law regarding recordings cannot be subject to discharge, retaliation or any adverse employment action for making a report.
Fox’s current school board Policy KKB: AUDIO AND VISUAL RECORDING needs to be updated to comply with the new law. Other school districts in Missouri who use the Missouri School Board Association’s board Policies and Regulations will need to update Policy KKB as well after checking some of those other school district's websites.

Fox C-6’s school board Policy KKB was last revised on: 09/20/2016.

Below are some of the recommendations that school districts should begin thinking about as noted in a May 25, 2021 blog post written by Ed Counsel, LLC:

Ed Counsel LLC's article was written prior to the signing of the bill into law.
As noted in the article:
  • Staff should be aware that parents have the ability to record IEP and Section 504 meetings, and no steps should be taken to discourage that recording, in order to maintain compliance with the law. This would include office staff who may field calls from parents regarding recording meetings, and staff members who will participate in IEP or Section 504 meetings.
  • The new ability to record will likely change the landscape regarding due process complaints and child complaints, as parental recordings will likely be used as exhibits in those hearings.
  • Because the recordings made by the parent will be the property of the parent, and the school’s recording will be a student education record, they will be able to publish the recording if they choose to—including on social media. Staff should understand the district’s expectations for their behavior as outlined in the district’s staff conduct policy, including communicating professionally with parents and patrons of the District.
  • Given that these recordings will likely be used in dispute resolution processes, or could even spur such processes, it will be important for staff to be trained on and fully understand their roles in IEP and Section 504 meetings, as well as the process for those meetings.
  • Preparation for an IEP or Section 504 meeting is always important, but it will become even more important in a meeting in which a parent plans to record, to help prevent missteps during the meeting that may later be brought to light in a complaint.

Here is some of the text from Fox C-6’s current version of Policy KKB - AUDIO AND VIDEO RECORDING:

Recording of Meetings
The Board of Education prohibits the use of audio, visual or other recording devices at meetings held pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as well as other meetings among district employees and between district employees and parents/guardians. Exceptions to this prohibition will be made only in accordance with Board policy and law. Requests for such exceptions must be made within a reasonable period of time prior to the scheduled meetings. This prohibition does not apply to conversations held within view of district security cameras.

Secretive Recording or Transmission
The district prohibits secretive recordings where persons involved do not consent to the recording and it is not otherwise obvious that recording equipment is present or being used, unless the superintendent or designee determines in rare circumstances that such recordings are necessary for educational or security reasons. The district prohibits the simultaneous electronic transmission of any conversation by any person to a third party without the consent of all involved in the conversation, even if the conversation is not recorded.

Below is a link to an article from Missouri Disability Empowerment (MoDE) regarding the passage of the new law.

The article notes that Missouri is a one-party consent state. I've noted this fact in previous articles on my blog.

The article on the MoDE website includes a must-read letter that was recently sent to the Moberly School District by the Missouri Attorney General’s. The letter from the AG was written in response to a parent who reached out to MoDE for help in their request to record a meeting. The parents were asked to sign a “Request to Record IEP/504 Meeting” form that limited or restricted the parent’s right to record meetings in which they were a participant.

I highly recommend reading the AG Letter Regarding Recording that’s noted in the link below. It references the new law and puts the district on notice.

In 2010, Fox C-6 admins and their attorneys were aware that Missouri was a one-party consent state.

In 2010, some Fox C-6 administrators secretly audio recorded a phone call with one of our allergists in an attempt to try and discredit another allergist. What was really odd, was that the phone call with the allergist that Fox was attempting to discredit was only documented with handwritten notes taken by Fox’s former Section 504 Coordinator, Dan Baker. The audio recording of the phone call was submitted as evidence by the district in our 2010 Due Process Hearing.

If audio recordings of both phone calls had been submitted as evidence, then there would have been an accurate account of what was discussed during both phone calls. Handwritten notes of a phone call should not be trusted as an accurate record of a phone call during a Due Process Hearing.

The new law will hopefully deter school district administrators, staff and attorneys from making false statements during Section 504 meetings like we experienced. It’s less likely that this sort of behavior will continue under the new law when everyone is aware that the meeting is being recorded.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Legal Fees in Fox C-6's September 21, 2021 Bill Payments Report

In reviewing Fox's Bill Payments report in BoardDocs for the upcoming September 21, 2021 Fox C-6 School Board meeting, I found another payment to the Mickes Goldman O'Toole, LLC law firm for $4,412.90 for services for June 2021.

Fox had already paid the Mickes Goldman O’Toole law firm $26,664.00 during the 2020-2021 school year. With $23,996.50 of that amount being paid out in April through June of 2021. It would be interesting to know if the fees were for a Due Process Hearing. If it was, I’d like to know what the Due Process Hearing Officer’s findings of fact and final decision was. Mickes Goldman O’Toole is the law firm that we dealt with for 504 issues at Fox between 2008 and 2014. It’s also the law firm that sent me a cease and desist letter in 2012 and to three other members of our community in 2013. Fox switched law firms after the internet scandal became public in June 2014. Looking through the entire 2020-2021 school year, payments were made to the Thomeczek & Brink LLC law firm in July and August 2020 totaling $24,010.00. This was the law firm that was selected by Fox to represent the district as the Due Process Hearing Officer in our 2010 Due Process Hearing. I’m curious as to whether or not the fees in 2020 were for a Due Process Hearing as well. If it was, I’d like to know what the Due Process Hearing Officer’s findings of fact and final decision was. Our Due Process Hearing in 2010 taught me a lot about the tactics used by attorneys to get around the law. You get a full transcript of your due process hearing providing some well documented examples of those tactics and how testimony and facts are manipulated. Recourse Options For Denial or Removal of a Section 504 Plan If your school district denies or removes a 504 plan, you have 3 options of recourse.

1. File for a Due Process Hearing where the school district gets to choose the hearing officer.
2. File a lawsuit in civil court heard by a judge.
3. File a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

However, you should be forewarned, speaking from first hand experience, filing a complaint with the Kansas City Office for Civil Rights may take 10 to 12 years or more to resolve.

Don't count on the Kansas City OCR office to do any “vigorous enforcement” of the law.
During the 2020-2021 school year, Fox C-6 made payments to 6 different law firms as reported in Bill Payments reports in BoardDocs:
Tueth Keeney Cooper Mohan & Jackstadt P.C. - $35,855.00
Mickes O'Toole - $26,664.00
Thomeczek & Brink, LLC - $24,010.00
Bryan Cave Leighton Palsner, LLP - $5,000.00
Gilmore & Bell a Professional Corporation - $6,500.00
Shands, Elbert, Gianoulakis & Giljum, LLP - $1,596.00

To review the Bill Payments report in BoardDocs for the September 21, 2021 school board meeting, use the link below:

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Post Dispatch Article Documented in Fox C-6 Legal Bills as "Press Release"

At the August 23, 2012 REACH Open House at Clyde Hamrick, I had a discussion with one of Fox’s former administrators about some of the issues going on in our district.

Our discussion occurred just days after I had received a cease and desist letter from Fox's law firm threatening me with legal action if I didn’t stop talking to administrators and former administrators as well as school board members at Fox about Section 504 issues and other issues such as in person and online bullying.

The former administrator's response really hit a nerve. Especially since I had just received the cease and desist letter days before which I mentioned during our discussion as well.

The discussion also inspired me to write an article about a Dear Colleague letter on Retaliation Law issued by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in 2013.

The former administrator told me:
"You should pick your battles and I don't think this is one of them you should fight. You've got to think about your parents. This is your home. You don't need to be doing battle here. You should let someone else do it. It's because of who you are and who your family is as to why you shouldn't fight this battle."

I took that as a challenge. The cease and desist letter also fueled my efforts to bring about change in our school district. And, it reminded me of when our former superintendent, Dianne Brown (Critchlow) called my dad into her office to talk about our complaint.

Bullying In the St. Louis Post Dispatch
I was already determined to bring about changes at Fox after Fox and their law firm had an article published in the Post Dispatch in August 2010.

The article's intent was to bully us for filing a complaint with ED OCR. The online title of the article was not the same as the print article. The online article title referenced the 504 Plan as a "Special Status".

The article incited online comments directed at me and my family, including death threats which the Post Dispatch refused to remove from their website. I forwarded the comments to ED OCR and USDA OCR since they were clearly harassing and retaliation for filing complaints with ED OCR and USDA OCR.

The article mentioned the cost of legal fees. The article failed to mention the fact that when the district removes a 504 Plan, your only options, if you disagree with the school's decision are to file for Due Process, file a civil suit against the district in a court of law or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. The article also failed to mention the fact that we were going to withdraw from the Due Process Hearing so Fox's attorneys decided to file Due Process against us so Fox could settle the disagreement.

PD Article Failed To Document District Wide Compliance Review Investigation
The 2010 Post Dispatch article failed to note important information that they showed us during our interview such as their discovery of the March 2010 District Wide Compliance Review investigation of Fox.
Then there was the privacy issue with Missouri DESE
When I was first contacted by the Post Dispatch to interview me for an article, I asked the reporter how she had gotten my name. It immediately threw up red flags considering we were preparing for a Due Process Hearing with Fox. The timing was not a coincidence.

The reporter explained to me that the Post Dispatch made a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request with ED OCR to see if there had been any complaints filed against any school districts in our state for students with life threatening food allergies. I'm sure that's something that reporters do all the time. She told me that our complaint was the only one. First, I told the reporter that any complaint filed by a parent or advocate with ED OCR is redacted and would not have identified us.

I also told the reporter that there were other complaints filed against other districts in our state filed with ED OCR by families with life threatening food allergies. Our complaint was not the only one as the reporter had claimed.
Post Dispatch Sunshine Request Leads To Contact Information
The Post Dispatch reporter went on to explain that they found our name after they made a Sunshine Request with Missouri DESE to find out if there were any emails related to the complaint. The reporter explained that our names were contained in emails between Missouri DESE and Fox but that our daughter’s name had been redacted out of the emails.

Missouri DESE failed to protect our identity. Or, maybe it was just really good investigative reporting by the Post Dispatch. It could also be that this was the fight that I shouldn't fight and that was the reason why.

Fox's Legal Bills Documented the Post Dispatch Article as a "press release"
So when I finally received copies of legal bills from the district in 2014 and I saw the bill from 2010 from the law firm that referenced the “press release”, it confirmed how and why the article was written.

I found other articles over the years about parents who had filed complaints filed with ED OCR in other school districts. The same tactic was used against them by the same law firm in order to bully and retaliate against them as well.

The following article from 2013, was written prior to the tracing of IP addresses to Fox C-6 administrator's homes and cell phones. It covers the Dear Colleague Letter sent out to all school districts in the U.S. in 2013.

For some reason, the Kansas City U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has had a lot of trouble recognizing retaliation against parents in our region. It makes a person wonder just how much documentation is needed before it's considered retaliation. Perhaps online defamatory comments traced to administrator homes and cease and desist letters by the school district's law firm isn't enough documentation.

Or, perhaps the KC ED OCR office just didn't have time to read the Dear Colleague Letter regarding harassment and retaliation due to the backlog of complaints in their office.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Fox C-6's March 2018 Resolution Agreement and March 2010 District Wide Compliance Review Update

When ED OCR ignores 7 years of evidence including a Due Process Hearing ruling that was reversed as well as the evidence that initially led to the Washington DC U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (ED OCR) Headquarters request for a District Wide Compliance Review in March 2010, it's easy to see why there weren't any "findings" in the March 2018 Resolution Agreement that Fox signed with the Kansas City ED OCR (KC ED OCR) office.

That's what I learned while speaking with the supervisory attorney who worked on Fox’s District Wide Compliance Review when it was reopened in the spring of 2015. You'll like the reasons given as to why they ignored how Fox was handling 504 issues prior to 2015.
There's no reason to have a Section 504 law if it's not going to be enforced by ED OCR and schools aren't held accountable. And, there's no reason to have OCR offices handling complaints or compliance reviews if it takes a decade or more to resolve them. It would save parents, school districts and attorneys a lot of time, effort and money.

ED OCR's Case Processing Manual (CPM) explains why school districts enter into a Resolution Agreement with ED OCR. The CPM states that "OCR can resolve allegations at any point during the course of the investigation, if appropriate. OCR resolution agreements will be drafted to ensure compliance with the civil rights laws and regulations enforced by OCR."

SECTION 302 - Resolution Agreement Reached During an Investigation
Per SECTION 302, "Allegations under investigation may be resolved at any time when, prior to the point when OCR issues a draft letter of findings under CPM Section 303(b), the recipient expresses an interest in resolving the allegations and OCR determines that it is appropriate to resolve them because OCR’s investigation has identified concerns that can be addressed through a resolution agreement. The provisions of the resolution agreement must be tied to the allegations, and the evidence obtained during the investigation and will be consistent with applicable regulations."
The language in SECTION 302 has been watered down since 2005, to lessen the appearance of legal Non-Compliance when school districts enter into a Resolution Agreement with ED OCR. In 2005, ED OCR's Case Processing Manual stated:

"After the investigation begins, a complaint may be resolved in either of the following ways:

  • OCR determines that there is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion of noncompliance; or
  • OCR determines that there is sufficient evidence to support a conclusion of noncompliance and the recipient enters into an agreement."
96 Months To Conduct a District Wide Compliance Review of Fox C-6 KC ED OCR's nearly non-existent effort to completing Fox's District Wide Compliance Review teaches other school districts and attorneys that school districts don't have to follow federal law and that any non-compliance issues in a school district will just go away if given enough time and parents or advocates stop checking on OCR's progress of their complaint(s) or an open District Wide Compliance Review of their school district. And yes, it really did take the KC ED OCR office 96 months to complete their Compliance Review of Fox C-6 and determine whether or not Fox was providing Individualized Health Plans to students with disabilities instead of Section 504 Plans.

As a comparison, it only took the Atlanta ED OCR office 24 months to complete a District Wide Compliance Review for the same issue of the Memphis City School District. It took another 25 months after Fox signed the Resolution Agreement in March 2018 for KC ED OCR to complete their review and approval of Fox’s updated Section 504 Manual. It’s the same Section 504 Manual that Fox originally agreed to update by June 30, 2009. But who’s counting days, months, years or decades when it comes to properly identifying students who qualify for a Section 504 plan. Deadlines Allowed to Slip The 504 manual and changes to Fox’s policies that OCR asked for was a real sticking point for the law firm representing Fox at the time. So, rather than hold Fox accountable and live by the terms of the Resolution Agreement, ED OCR allowed deadlines to slip year after year. The KC ED OCR office was doing the best they could to do “vigorous enforcement” of the law. They told me over the years about their staff shortages and people being pulled off to work on other cases. They told me time after time that they hoped to be sending out a “monitoring” letter to the district soon and that they hoped to complete Fox’s Compliance Review in the next several months as I checked on our complaint and Fox’s District Wide Compliance Review between 2009 and 2020. Fox Still Being "Monitored" Speaking of compliance reviews, I recently discovered that Fox’s March 2010 District Wide Compliance Review is still being “monitored” by ED OCR as noted in the compliance review data I received last week from a recent Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request. My FOIA request asked for the status and purpose of all District Wide Compliance Reviews initiated over the past 20 years in all of the OCR Regional Offices across the country. I made a similar request in 2015 but just for Kansas City and Atlanta offices and wrote about it in 2015. I made the FOIA request so I could compare how long it took the KC ED OCR office to complete compliance reviews compared other offices across the country.
Concerns Regarding Who Would Conduct the Compliance Review In 2010, I emailed the regional enforcement director asking him what office would be performing Fox’s District Wide Compliance Review because I had concerns if the KC ED OCR office was conducting Fox’s compliance review. That’s because the KC ED OCR office had allowed Fox to miss deadline after deadline that Fox agreed to in the May 1, 2009 Resolution Agreement. And, not to my surprise, I was informed that the KC ED OCR office would be handling Fox’s Compliance Review. Chief Attorney Concerns One of my other concerns was the fact that the chief attorney in the KC ED OCR office who oversaw complaints and compliance reviews had worked as general counsel for the Kansas City Missouri school district prior to working for ED OCR. When the chief attorney retired after moving up to the director position, I discovered that his successor had also worked as general counsel for the Kansas City school district prior to working for ED OCR. Then at the beginning of 2019, I learned that the acting director at KC ED OCR who oversaw the completion of Fox’s District Wide Compliance Review and the signing of the Resolution Agreement left ED OCR and went to work for the law firm that represented Fox when the District Wide Compliance Review was initiated in March 2010. It’s also the same law firm that we battled with between August 2008 and June 2014 and the same one that sent me a cease and desist letter trying to stop me from speaking to our school board and administrators in our district about our case with ED OCR. Fox changed law firms in June 2014 when the online cyberbullying scandal made national news. ED OCR Ignores What Occurred Prior to 2015
So, when I found out from the supervisory attorney during our May 2020 phone call that the Kansas City ED OCR office ignored everything that had occurred prior to 2015 in their compliance review investigation, it was easy to see why ED OCR didn’t note any adverse "findings" such as retaliation by school district administrators cyberbullying parents for filing OCR complaints (which is a violation of Section 504 law) and giving Individualized Health Plans to students instead of Section 504 Accommodation Plans for those students who were qualified for one and requested one. My telephone conversation with the supervisory attorney justified my concerns of allowing the KC ED OCR office to conduct Fox’s District Wide Compliance Review. The supervisory attorney told me that she didn’t know the history of the review before she was assigned to work on it. It seems like the KC ED OCR office would have problems handling investigations if they don't pass on information to others. She said that they, "Basically opened the investigation from anew and took a fresh look at it because we realized that time had passed and what they did five years ago wasn't going to be relevant as what was happening currently. So, we basically did a new Compliance Review with new information and looked at how over time it changed." She also noted that, "The district has had a lot of turnover with personnel. There's a new law firm that's representing them now. The new current law firm has, I'm not trying to sound like I'm putting a plug in for them by any means, it's been on time with regards to submitting the data we've requested. They've been cordial. I don't feel that they've hidden information from us." She explained that ED OCR reinitiated contact with Fox in the spring of 2015 and started requesting additional documents and going through the policies and procedures and that the results of that investigation is what led to a Resolution Agreement that was signed by the district in March 2018. She informed me that ED OCR was currently monitoring the district. She told me, “I regret that the case and this review took as long as they did. That is not what should happen to any person who files a complaint with our office but I can’t explain the length of time prior to my involvement.“
Vigorous Enforcement? So, if you’ve ever filed a complaint with the KC ED OCR office and wondered what happened to it, maybe ED OCR really is understaffed and they really are hoping to work on your complaint real soon. It’s that “vigorous enforcement” of the law by ED OCR that we can count on to hold our school districts, school district attorneys, administrators and school boards accountable for their actions. Then again. Maybe not!